Drought, hunger push Somalis to flee amid fears of famine

Thousands of desperate people are streaming into Somalia's capital seeking food as a result of prolonged drought, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. The Somali government warns of a looming famine.

The U.N. humanitarian office says 5 million Somalis, out of population of 10 million, need humanitarian assistance. The U.S. Agency for International Development says that 363,000 acutely malnourished children need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished.

Two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, more in some areas, have caused large-scale crop failures and high levels of livestock deaths. The Somali government warns of the possibility of a full-blown famine in Somalia. It has appealed for large-scale aid to avert an imminent disaster.

Somalia's conflict against Islamic extremist rebels has compounded the harvest failure problems.