The U.N. World Food Program said it welcomed an announcement from al-Qaida's affiliate al-Shabaab, which controls much of southern Somalia, that it would allow humanitarian access to drought-stricken citizens in the area.
The agency said it was preparing for what it said was one of its largest operations to address the crisis brought on by drought in the Horn of Africa.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said it could be at least four months before there will be any sort of harvest in Somalia.
"What we are seeing here is almost a perfect storm -- conflict in Somalia, rising fuel and food prices and drought and the loss of the rain," he said in a statement.
Scientists said the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa in more than 60 years is likely the result of strong seasonal weather phenomenon in the region that could linger for the rest of the year.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a statement Wednesday said Washington was "deeply concerned" by the humanitarian emergency.
Clinton said Washington was providing $28 million in aid for people in Somalia and the rest of the region.
"But the United States cannot solve the crisis in the Horn alone," she said. "All donors in the international community must commit to taking additional steps to tackle both immediate assistance needs and strengthen capacity in the region to respond to future crises."
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