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Gains Made to Contain a Locust Outbreak in the Horn of Africa Hampered by Tigray Offensive

Now there are fears Ethiopia might also lose its grip. A UN internal document seen by Reuters last week said efforts to combat the locust swarms were believed to have stopped in Tigray because of the conflict. Aerial operations – involving planes and helicopters for both surveillance and spraying pesticide – have ceased. Young men and some women, who stepped up to confront the locusts last month, are now being mobilised for war. That war may worsen an already fragile humanitarian situation. According to the FAO, recurring swarms had left a million people across Ethiopia in need of emergency food assistance by early April. Now, in Tigray, banks have been closed and supply routes blocked. About 600,000 people in the region depend on food assistance, while another million people receive other forms of support, all of which are now disrupted, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a report released on 7 November. Not all is lost. Ethiopia’s campaign against the locusts is low-tech but labour intensive and, in Tigray especially, fairly well organised.