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Defiant Somalia puts contested oil block territory up for auction

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FRED OLUOCH

By FRED OLUOCH
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The diplomatic spat between Kenya and Somalia was poised to take a turn for the worse after leaked Somalia government documents showed that Mogadishu had put on auction offshore oil blocks in the contested territory off the Kenyan port of Lamu.

Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment citing sensitivity of the matter.

Principal Secretary Michael Kamau said the Kenyan government was still digesting the possible consequences of Somalia’s action even as he asked the writer “to direct his questions to the source of the document.”
Diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia have been on the rocks since late last year when it emerged that Somalia had held an oil exploration exhibition in London where oil blocks off the Kenyan coast were put up for auction.

Kenya waded deeper into the controversy in May with an immigration stroke that blocked Somalia’s diplomats from attending an international conference in Nairobi.

Mogadishu retaliated by directing all non-governmental organisation operating in Somalia from Nairobi to relocate to the country or cease operations.

The Somalia government says in the leaked February report titled Offshore Somalia 2019 that the country will exploit its petroleum resources effectively to achieve peace, stability and shared prosperity for all Somalis without damaging the environment.

Somalia on February 7 exhibited seismic oil blocks data for potential buyers in London.

The exhibition, which was reportedly sponsored by potential explorers, attracted furore from Nairobi.

Kenya accused Somalia of including oil blocks in the disputed 100km Indian Ocean triangle in the exhibition, with the full knowledge that the dispute is before the International Court of Justice.

The area in the Kenya-Somalia maritime border

The area in the Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute is about 100,000km2 forming a triangle east of the Kenya coast. FILE GRAPHIC | NMG

Somalia and the Spectrum Geo, which hosted the Somalia oil exhibition in London and conducted a 2D offshore seismic survey dismissed Kenya’s claims that oil blocks in the disputed territory were auctioned.

Spectrum said no seismic data was acquired within the area currently subject to maritime delimitation case with Kenya at the International Court of Justice, whose ruling is expected in September.

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At stake is the loss of 26 per cent of Kenya’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and 85 per cent of the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles (EEZ) limit.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Monica Juma complained in February that Somalia’s decision to offer oil blocks for sale in the contested area had undermined the principle of good faith and defeated the purpose of waiting for the Court to make the final determination.

The report says that after January 2020, successful companies will mobilise to offshore Somalia to commence exploration, which is initially four years, followed by a renewal of two years and again a final renewal of two years.

Offshore Somalia is divided into three basins, each defined by their own individual structural regimes; Obbia Basin in the north, the central Coriole Basin, and the southerly Juba-Lamu Basin.

“Striking resemblance to the astonishingly successful plays in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique indicate that offshore Somalia is about to become the hottest exploration prospect in East Africa,” says the report.

In preparation for Somalia’s upcoming offshore licensing round, the country has completed acquisition and processing of 20,185km of 2D long-offset seismic data, following a co-operation agreement.

The programme complements 20,500km of existing seismic data that was acquired in 2014.

The survey design, which covers water depths of 30m to 4,000m, has allowed for seismic coverage over the shelf, slope and basin floor with dip, strike and recording time intervals suitable for defining a range of leads and prospects.

Somalia in 2014 filed a suit accusing Kenya of encroaching on 100,000 square km of marine territory with potential oil and gas deposits in the Indian Ocean. Diplomatic negotiations over the territory had dragged on for six years without success.

Kenya insists that the marine boundary is determined by a parallel to the line of latitude to the east as per the standards set by the colonial powers, which has been adopted in the marine border between Kenya-Tanzania, Tanzania-Mozambique and Mozambique-South Africa.

But Somalia wants the boundary to extend to the southeast as an extension of the land border, which would take a large swathe of what Kenya considers its EEZ.

Kenya had in 2012 submitted an application to acquire an additional 103,000 square kilometres to delineate the outer limits of the country’s continental shelf outside the EEZ of 200 nautical miles.

This hit a snag because Kenya does not have a maritime border agreement with Somalia, whereas one of the UN requirements is that countries that share the ocean must reach an agreement on the border issue.

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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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