The United Nations said Sunday it would send emergency food aid to thousands of Miskito Indians threatened with famine in a remote corner of Nicaragua after a plague of rats plundered their crops.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua The United Nations said Sunday it would send emergency food aid to thousands of Miskito Indians threatened with famine in a remote corner of Nicaragua after a plague of rats plundered their crops.
The UN will send 130 tons of food to 14 Indians near the Coco River who face food shortages because of the rodents, whose numbers have been boosted by snake-hunting, said World Food Program representative Krystyna Bednarska.
"At the moment the crops are affected by a plague of rats which have destroyed 100 percent of the rice crop, 50 percent of the maize crop and some manioc," she said.
"These people are already living in severe poverty, they don't have the means to deal with a crisis like this."
The Miskito Indians are a mainly English-speaking group indigenous to the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua and Honduras. Their territory was a British protectorate in the 18th century.
The food will be distributed to some 5,000 people from October for three months, depending on whether the situation improves, Bednarska said.
In the summer rainy season rats in the area tend to flee their riverside homes for higher agricultural land, where they gorge on crops. The rat population has boomed as people hunt more snakes, the rats' natural predator, for food and skins.