RAS KAMBONI, Somalia - Kenyan troops and their Somalian allies said Tuesday they would push deeper into insurgent-controlled territory in Somalia now that rains have stopped, as the United Nations called for $1.5 billion in aid for those hit by famine in the Horn of Africa nation.
Mohamed Ibrahim Farah, a spokesman for a Kenyan-allied Somalian militia at Somalia's southern tip, said troops would move soon, by the end of the year.
Somalia's devastating drought, which has killed tens of thousands of people, came to an end two months ago with torrential rains in the south. There are pools of water on the ground, but the puddles have been drying up since last week, so Somalis are preparing to move alongside their Kenyan allies.
Many farmers were driven off their land by the combined effects of drought and war, leaving fields unplanted. Humanitarians have warned that the effects of the food crisis will last well into next year.
The problems have been exacerbated since the extremist group al-Shabab levied heavy taxes on families living under their control, residents of Ras Kamboni said. "You either had to join them, or you had to pay," resident Hassan Mohamed said.
A Somalian militia, partly trained and funded by Kenya, captured Ras Kamboni about a month ago after al-Shabab insurgents withdrew. Kenyan Maj. Seif Said Rashid said people now urgently needed humanitarian aid.
"Food, water, medicine, and education," he said, ticking off the needs on his fingers.
In the capital, Nairobi, the United Nations' top humanitarian official for Somalia said they needed $1.5 billion to fund hundreds of lifesaving projects, including food, health, and education projects. "The Somalia crisis is everybody's responsibility," said Mark Bowden, the United Nations' humanitarian coordinator.