Locusts pose threat in Sudans strifetorn Darfur region UN agency reports

The locust situation continues to be serious in western Sudan where hopper bands and groups of immature adults of the crop-devouring creatures are present in Darfur, a region already afflicted by civil strife, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in its latest update today. Although survey and control operations are in progress, many areas cannot be accessed in the region, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced during two years of fighting between the Government, allied militia and rebels, it added. In Eritrea, small groups of hoppers have formed on the Red Sea coast near the border with Sudan where local breeding occurred after unusually good rainfall and control operations are now under way, FAO reported. Control operations were also carried out recently against hopper infestations in western Tigray province in northern Ethiopia. Scattered adults are also breeding in the interior in Yemen.In West Africa, where infestations two years ago sparked fears of a potentially worse crisis than the last plague nearly 20 years ago, only low numbers of immature and mature solitary adults are present in parts of southern Mauritania, northern Mali and Niger, where earlier damage caused by the locusts has exacerbated a food crisis. Although ecological conditions are unusually favourable for breeding within a large portion of the northern Sahel region bordering the Sahara, no hoppers have been found so far. Nevertheless, intensive surveys must continue to detect any signs that locust numbers might be increasing, FAO said.On the other hand, local breeding has occurred west of Tamanrasset in southern Algeria where scattered late hoppers and immature adults were treated. Breeding is in progress and scattered adults are present in Kanem, Batha and Wadi Fira regions in Chad but the situation remains rather unclear because of unconfirmed reports of swarms in some of these areas. read more

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