The latest announcement signifies the scale of the growing humanitarian crisis in the horn of Africa, affecting some 10 million people.
The United States, which regards al-Shabaab as a terrorist group, has already delivered some 19,000 metric tons of food to the UN World Food Programme, much of it already sitting in regional warehouses to be ready for rapid delivery, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
The senior UN humanitarian official for Somalia welcomed the news of the lifting of the food aid ban.
“I am happy to cooperate with anybody who can work to alleviate the current crisis to save hundreds of Somali lives,” said Mark Bowden, UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, who is based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
The UN World Food Programme pulled out of southern Somalia in 2010 because of threats against its staff and demands by al-Shabaab of payments for security.