The United Nations said it will commence airlifting food to famine-stricken Somalia on Tuesday.

According to the Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program Josette Sheeran, this will represent the first food aid mission to Somalia since the U.N. declared two weeks ago that two regions of the East African country are in the throes of a famine.

At an emergency U.N. meeting in Rome, Somalia’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said that more than 3.5 million people in his country are at risk of starving to death.

The tragedy is further complicated by the presence of Islamist insurgents like Al-Shabab who control much of Somalia and who have banned foreign aid groups, including the U.N., from their areas. It is in areas they control where the famine is apparently at its worst.

Sheeran explained that food supplies will be airlifted to the capitol Mogadishu, which is partially controlled by a fragile interim government – that is, in turn, supported by an African Union peacekeeping force.

Sheeran also attended the Rome meeting after having toured through refugee camps in Kenya, which have seen a huge influx of Somalis fleeing starvation in their homeland.

"What we saw is children who are arriving so weak that many of them are in stage four malnutrition and have little chance - less than 40 percent chance - of making it," she told media.

"This is about saving lives now. It's not about politics, it's not about anything but humanity standing together to save lives."

Earlier, the French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire said the world had "failed to ensure food security".

"If we don't take the necessary measures, famine will be the scandal of this century,” Le Maire told Agence France Presse.

However, John O’Shea the director of the charity Goal, John O'Shea, told the BBC that the U.N.'s response to Somalia woes has made the food crisis even worse.

"We wouldn't have four million Somalis starving if they sent in U.N. peacekeepers," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa.