In this photo released by the UNHCR severely malnourished children look on at the Al Adala internally displaced peoples settlement in Mogadishu, Somalia.

Near record food prices have exacerbated the famine caused by drought in the Horn of Africa, the World Bank said on Monday.

In Somalia, prices for locally produced cereals have increased dramatically since October - with prices of red sorghum soaring 240 per cent and white maize increasing 154 per cent - exceeding 2008

peak prices, the World Bank said in a quarterly report on global food prices.

Maize prices in Kampala, Mogadishu and Kigali have doubled from a year ago.

“Nowhere are high food prices, poverty and instability combining to produce tragic suffering more than in the Horn of Africa,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said.

Global food prices had risen 33 per cent in July over the year-ago period. Maize prices were up 84 percent, sugar 62 percent, wheat 55 percent and soybean oil 47 percent.

Still, those prices were 5 per cent below a spike in February due to small declines in costs for grains, fats and oil among other foodstuffs.

Zoellick warned that uncertainty remains and noted vigilance is need to help the poor.

According to the United Nations, more than 12 million people are in danger of starvation because of the worst drought in 60 years across five East African countries. - Sapa-dpa