Malnourished and displaced Somali children sit in a tent in their camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Somalia. Picture: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP

Mogadishu, Somalia - An aid group is warning that more than 20 000 children in drought-hit Somalia could starve to death in the coming months without continued international assistance.

Save the Children said Thursday that the number of cases of severe acute malnutrition has "skyrocketed" in several of the nine Somali districts assessed.

The new survey warns of "famine-like conditions" in parts of the Horn of Africa nation.

The aid group says that without $1.5 billion in assistance, Somalia could face a hunger crisis as severe as the one in 2011, when famine killed more than a quarter-million people. Half of the victims were children.

Thousands have been killed in the latest drought as Somalis struggle with poor rains and a cholera outbreak, with many people trapped in areas controlled by extremist group al-Shabab.

Associated Press