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Locust Swarms Moving Towards Middle East

Locust Swarms Moving Towards Middle East Unlikely To Cause Much Damage - UN

Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Sudan face the possibility of a few desert locust swarms arriving from northern Egypt, though damage to crops is expected to the minimal, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

"It is possible that a small number of locust swarms could arrive in these countries," said Mahmoud Solh, director of the agency's Plant Production and Protection Division. "Countries should not expect excessive waves of swarms like in the Maghreb countries; there is definitely no reason to panic."

However, FAO called on countries to look out for any locust swarms and undertake control operations as early as possible.

Locust swarms originally came from the Sahel summer breeding areas and moved into Libya on strong winds from the southwest. Earlier this month, they invaded northern Egypt and then made a dramatic appearance in Cairo, according to FAO.

"Although desert locust control operations are underway in Egypt, there is a risk some of the swarms could attack crops," said Mr. Solh. "But these swarms are highly mobile and crop damage is expected to be limited."

FAO said it is closely monitoring the situation to see if swarms will move south along the Red Sea to their traditional winter breeding areas along the coastal plains of southern Egypt, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. "If this occurs and if there is rainfall during the upcoming winter," said Mr. Solh, "locust numbers could significantly increase in these areas."

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