Too many people will have already died in Somalia by the time a hunger emergency is declared, said Peter Maurer, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"The alarm bells are ringing loudly," he said on Tuesday, calling for faster action by the international community.

Francesco Rocco, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), echoed Maurer's concerns, warning that some two dozen countries across Africa were grappling with the worst hunger crisis in decades. (Writing by Miranda Murray Editing by Madeline Chambers)