By Hadi Fornaji.
Tripoli, 7 February, 2013:
The Arab Maghreb Union has agreed that priority must be given to tackling foot and mouth disease which is now widespread across the region.
The disease was first noted in Libya in December 2011 at Zawia, where according to the UN’s Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH), 2,000 sheep and 112 cattle perished within a month. Further outbreaks were then identified in Misrata, Zlitan and Homs. A programme of mass-inoculation was launched by Libyan veterinary authorities. However early on in the campaign, there were concerns that the inoculation was not comprehensive and also that movement restrictions on animals were not being enforced.
This may have contributed to the steady spread of FMD to Benghazi and even as far as Kufra. When the disease hit Derna, the authorities imposed a strict quarantine. It is uncertain if there are now any areas of the country that have not been hit.
Certainly the rest of the Mahgreb has been suffering. Habib Ben Yahya, the Secretary General of the AMU admitted at this week’s special ministerial meeting on food security, that FMD was “ravaging” the region. He said that the AMU was working closely with the WOAH and that it was also studying the establishment of a Maghreb Bank to support the fight against FMD.