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Somalia faces new desert locust invasion

Somalia is facing a fresh desert locust invasion, the latest in a string of invasions in the last year. This comes as United Nations agencies warn that the east African nation is one of 16 states that are "at high risk of rising levels of acute hunger". East Africa is bracing for a third outbreak of desert locusts, with billions of the destructive insects about to hatch and threaten food supplies in a region already reeling from damaging rains and the coronavirus pandemic. Spurred by favourable weather conditions, the migratory pests have descended on East Africa in record numbers since late 2019 and another wave is about to take to the skies despite the concerted use of pesticides. "Tens of thousands of hectares of cropland and pasture have already been damaged across the Horn and East Africa," the International Rescue Committee said in a report this month, noting even a small swarm could devour the same amount of food in a day as approximately 35,000 people. In Ethiopia between January and April, locusts destroyed 1.3 million hectares of grazing land and nearly 200,000 hectares of crops, resulting in the loss of 350,000 tonnes of cereals, IGAD, the East Africa regional organisation, said in a June report. A new report by two United Nations agencies warned Friday of a heightened risk of famine in three conflict-torn African states and Yemen, and a high hunger risk in 16 more. Some 260,000 people died in a 2011 famine in Somalia.