A locust outbreak of biblical proportions is spreading from Sudan and Eritrea along both sides of Red Sea to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned.

Huge swarms of locusts are about to descend on Egypt and around the Red Sea, which couldn’t but generate comparisons to one of the ten plagues, described in the Book of Exodus, God delivered upon Egypt after the Pharaoh refused to concede to Moses’ demand to set free the enslaved Israelites.

The present outbreak has been caused by long periods of rain around Sudan and Eritrea that have contributed to two generations of breeding and a substantial increase in locusts, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has explained. One highly mobile swarm crossed the border to Saudi Arabia in mid-January, with further swarms following suit a week later.

“The next three months will be critical to bring the locust situation under control before the summer breeding starts. The further spread of the current outbreak depends on two major factors — effective control and monitoring measures in locust breeding areas of Sudan, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia and the surrounding countries, and rainfall intensity between March and May along both sides of the Red Sea and in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula”, the UN’s locust expert Keith Cressman warned.

Social media users believe that the locust outbreak is a harbinger of the biblical prophecy:

Since December 2018, pest control experts have treated up to 200,000 acres of land in Egypt, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, and corresponding control measures are currently underway in Iran after at least one swarm descended on the southern coast in late January.

Adult locust swarms can fly up to 93 miles (150 kilometres) a day with the wind and can consume roughly their own weight in fresh food per day, posing a great threat to crops and food security.

According to Cressman, the last major locust upsurge was detected between 2003 and 2005 when over 12 million hectares were treated in Africa, which incurred a whopping cost of about $750 million including food aid.

The UN FAO is expected to hold a meeting in Jordan over the next few days to address intensifying control measures with the affected countries.

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