An internally displaced woman holds her malnourished son at the Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu
An internally displaced woman holds her malnourished son at the Banadir hospital in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, July 22, 2011. Islamist rebels in Somalia -- who control the parts of the country where famine was declared this week -- have said aid agencies they expelled from those areas last year cannot return, reversing a previous pledge.

Charities and organisations such as the UN are launching campaigns to raise funds for drought affected East Africa as 10 million people risk losing their life because of famine.

Refugee camps are overflowing with people desperate to find food and medical help, after, in most cases, days of walking.

The number of dead children has already reached 30,000, and as many as 500,000 more children may die without immediate aid.

People have lost their homes and their meagre possessions to come to the aid camps set up to help them as surviving the present is taking over concerns about the future.

While the work of the organisations is rightly praised in that people in countries like Somalia cannot rely on State help as the government is too weak to even assert control over the national territory, problems encountered by the NGOs and other organisations are often kept under wraps.

Clearly food right now is a very expensive commodity in countries like Somalia, so news that non-scrupulous bandits sell food aid recuperated in refugee camps or storage units is not surprising.

This week, the United Nations World Food Program announced it is investigating allegations that thousands of sacks of grain and other supplies intended for famine victims have been stolen by and later on sold on the open market for a profit.

"We're looking into this," Greg Barrow, a spokesman for the World Food Program, said Tuesday.

Worryingly, Barrow said the World Food Program had been told about the issue several months ago, but refused to expand on the subject until the situation became clearer.

The Somalia Capital, Mogadishu, which was the stage of a confrontation between the Islamist militant group al-Shabab and the government, is now under the authorities control after the insurgents abruptly withdrew from the capital.

The news however came as a surprise and many now fear the decision to withdraw is just part of a tactic to focus on other areas.

The Islamist armed group has banned Western organisations from working in the areas it controls, accusing them of spying and denying a famine even exists but as pressure increases many fear militants will try to access the food stocks.

The group has even stated that in the case of aid agencies working in the territories it control, it wants its people to be in charge of food distribution, which would facilitate their access to food supplies that can then be used to nourish the militants or sold in the markets.

Militant groups throughout the continent have for many years tried and sometimes successfully managed to access refugee camps to steal food or medical supplies.

During the 1994 Rwandan genocide for example, it is a well-known fact that refugee camps in Congo were taken over by armed militants groups who threatened aid workers and forcibly imposed their rules.

Also in Somalia in 1991 and 1992 when drought and famine hit the country, warlords and other armed groups stole all the food shipments they managed to access.

Moreover as the country has been considered as a high danger zone since a civil war broke out more than twenty years ago, many organisations run their programmes through local groups, which they have not much control over and can cause important monitoring problems.

The United Nations is clearly aware of the problem and has thus decided to try and serve, when it can, individual portions of porridge as opposed to just handing out sacks of grain.

The World Food Program however has said that it will not cut back on aid deliveries because of the allegations of theft, which due to the urgency of the situation is understandable, but has warned it will ask contractors to pay them back for any food that has not been delivered.