DOLO, Somalia – Somalia’s famine will be five times worse by Christmas unless the international community increases its food aid, Australia’s foreign minister said Sunday during a visit to Somalia, even as the international Red Cross distributed 400 tons of food into hard-to-reach areas of southern Somalia.

Kevin Rudd was in Somalia’s famine-struck area of Dolo to appeal to the world to help avoid a catastrophe. During his visit hundreds of women with small children in tow massed around a World Food Program sign-up table in hopes of qualifying for food aid. Rudd talked with internal refugees who have had little to eat in recent days.

World Food Program’s Executive Director Josette Sheeran said Sunday the program will open new feeding sites in and around Dolo by the end of the week. She said it is critical that WFP gets new funding to fight the three-pronged catastrophe of drought, conflict and high food prices.

WFP estimates more than 11.3 million people need aid across drought-hit regions in East Africa.

The U.S. last week announced it was giving an additional $28 million in emergency funding on top of the $431 million in assistance already given this year. Rudd suggested that the U.S. and European countries need to do more to avoid a massive number of deaths, despite the financial hardships those regions are experiencing.

“The reason we do it is it’s part of who we are,” Rudd said. “Part of America’s great standing around the world since World War II is its combination of hard power and soft power. … U.S. aid given around the world helps their standing in the world. It’s part of the American greatness that we’ve seen.”

The U.N. is set to greatly expand the areas in southern Somalia classified as famine, and because seasonal rains — if they take place — are still months away, officials say the situation is going to get much worse in coming weeks and months, one reason Rudd is pushing for countries to boost their aid contributions.