Armyworm outbreak spreads across Malawi, threatens maize crop
An infestation of armyworms, a pest that has hit maize fields in southern Africa, has spread across Malawi. The outbreak of fall armyworms - an invasive Latin American species which is harder to detect and eradicate than its African counterpart - has erupted in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi and follows a crippling El Nino-triggered drought which scorched much of the region last year. The ministry is still assessing how many hectares had been been affected. Earlier this month the government said 2,000 hectares of maize had been destroyed but the outbreak then was restricted to nine districts. Malawi's maize crop, the staple grain, was devastated last year by the regional drought. About 6.5 million Malawians, more than a third of the population, are dependent on food aid until this year's harvest in March, according to the United Nations' World Food Programme. The armyworms are caterpillars that "march" across the landscape in large groups feasting on young maize plants.
800 homes destroyed or flooded in Tahiti storms
More than 800 homes have been destroyed or flooded in French Polynesia after the weekend's severe storms. Authorities said at least four people were injured, 4000 people have been affected and that at least five bridges had been destroyed. Work was underway, yesterday, on Tahiti to move tons of mud brought in by the floods. A state of natural disaster was declared after the weekend rain. 258 homes were still without electricity yesterday afternoon.
Cold weather reignites fears for refugees poorly sheltered in Greece
A new bout of cold weather across southern Europe has reignited fears for thousands of refugees and migrants sheltered in deplorable conditions in Greece. Forecasts of freezing temperatures have also been met with trepidation by international agencies, aid groups and local mayors on islands. Greece was the focus of public outcry this month after shocking footage emerged of refugees on Lesbos living in flimsy, snow-swamped tents as an arctic blast sent temperatures plummeting to -14C. The outcry prompted the government to dispatch a naval ship to temporarily house up to 500 people detained at the island’s vastly overcrowded Moria reception centre. Others were moved into heated containers, hotel rooms and apartments. But the measures have proved inadequate and with more severe weather on the way officials, volunteers and human rights defenders fear the worst.