The UN's spokesperson Michelle Montas warned today that, according to the FAO, a "plague of caterpillars" are eating Liberia and could spread across West Africa, ravenously devouring crops and ruining livelihoods. That's right. Caterpillars.
At this time, I'm honored to present the award for Most Unlikely Animal Or Plant To Be Mentioned in a UN Briefing during my three and a half years of covering the United Nations:
Fourth prize: The plague of locusts that wiped out much of the crop in Niger in 2005.
Third prize: The plague of caterpillars in Liberia this year.
Second prize: 2008 being named "International Year of the Potato" by the General Assembly. Needless to say, the GA began preparing for the momentous IYOTP more than two years in advance.
First prize: The "recalcitrant donkeys" that plagued the AU force in Darfur in 2006 with their mulish unwillingness to transport supplies. ("So can this be described as a pain in the ass?" asked one clever AP reporter. "Um, we don't use that kind of language here," responded then-spokesman Stephane Dujarric, maintaining a straight face with difficulty.)
GRAND PRIZE: India's "war camels" that were contributed to the UNAMID force in Darfur. The camels, trained to live and serve in combat zones, were... yes, they were actually called war camels. In related news, UNAMID's request for attack and transport helicopters from the international community remains unfulfilled, but thanks to India's unique contribution they can still move things the old-fashioned way.