Aerial bombardment and ground fighting in Somalia’s Middle and Lower Shabelle regions this month has forced over 10,000 people to flee for their lives.

“We’re seeing a spike in families fleeing fighting that are arriving in overcrowded camps in Mogadishu. The camps are already overfilled with drought-stricken people, barely surviving in flimsy shelters,” said the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Country Director in Somalia, Victor Moses.

“The double shock to people fleeing both conflict and drought means that they have to endure multiple crises at once, and this can push them over the brink.”

Tensions in Bal’ad and Afgooye districts exploded into open conflict in November. Additionally, according to UNHCR, an alarming increase in extortion, torture, sexual abuse and movement restrictions has been reported at roadblocks and checkpoints that were set up due to the rise in conflict. Many families have fled during breaks in the fighting, eventually making their way to the capital.

“The Norwegian Refugee Council is extremely concerned about the humanitarian impact of the fighting and aerial bombardment, as it’s happening when needs are already critically high. Aid is reaching many Somalis in the camps around Mogadishu, but not everyone, especially these families fleeing the recent fighting. Newly arrived families urgently need shelter, food and water.”

Over 1 million people have been internally displaced in Somalia since January, mainly due to drought, but also because of conflict, insecurity and flooding.

The crisis has spiralled downward during the course of the year. Half the population, over 6.7 million people, now need humanitarian assistance, up from 6.2 million earlier this year.