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Ethiopian Airlines plans payout – Daily Nation

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By PAUL WAFULA
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Families of the victims of the Ethiopian plane crash started to return home on Saturday as it emerged that they could receive between Sh17 million and Sh25 million for each person lost.

The exact amounts will vary due to factors such as age, profession and their position in life.

The amount could be more depending on the findings of ongoing investigation, especially if it is established that the airline was indeed at fault.

Ethiopian officials on Saturday refused to give any figures to families on what exactly to expect in compensation, only offering that it will be dictated by “international standards”.

Lucas Nzioka, who lost a nephew, told the Sunday Nation that Ethiopian officials told family members during a closed-door session that compensation will be guided by the Montreal Convention.

“We were told it could be between $170,000 and $250,000 depending on age, profession and so on. It should be done within 18 months,” Nzioka said.

Personal effects of the deceased as well as death certificates will be processed and issued to the next of kin within the next two to eight weeks.

“When one of us asked how much we shall be given as compensation at our meeting, the airline official did not give any figure but just told us it will be in line with international standards of compensation. I do not know how much that is at the moment,” Mr Kariuki Munyi, who lost his daughter said.

The Montreal Convention says compensation arises only if a passenger’s injury or death is caused by an unexpected or unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger.

The Ethiopian flight ET 302 crashed last Sunday killing all the 157 passengers and crew on board. There were 32 Kenyans aboard the ill-fated plane believed to have been brought down by malfunctioning of the flight control system in the highest selling Boeing 737 Max 8 jetliner.

The Montreal Convention anticipates two scenarios. The first provides for a minimum compensation that every passenger must be compensated as long as they were injured or died while on the plane. Currently, this amount is at about $170,000 (Sh170,000) per passenger.

The compensation process begins after identification of the victim is done. But since identification of bodies is going to be a nightmare for forensic experts given that there is no body retrieved from the crash scene, this is likely to take a while.

A seasoned Kenyan pilot told the Sunday Nation that every airline has an insurance policy for each passenger on board. He said currently, the insurance is about $170,000 (Sh17 million) for every occupied seat.

But if not satisfied by the compensation, a family can sue to get more but for such a suit to succeed, there must be evidence of pilot error or negligence on the part of the airline or its agents. If proven, the liability is unlimited.

But should Ethiopian Airline show that the accident is due to the wrongful act of Boeing or another third party, getting more compensation above what is provided for by the insurance from the carrier would be a Herculean task.

Some of the family members are considering getting a lawyer to help deal with the compensation issue. A number of lawyers are also already contacting family members to be part of the legal action should the matter end up in court.

“The carrier is liable for damage sustained in case of death or injury of a passenger upon condition only that the accident which caused the death or injury took place on board the aircraft or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking,” the convention reads in part.

Six other families the Sunday Nation spoke to said they did not know how much they will be paid, with only one saying they have gathered it would be about Sh20 million or less.

Forensic experts have collected over 5,000 tiny pieces of human remains left from the deadly crash last Sunday. Most are just fragments the size of a small finger to small bones. The biggest part is understood to be an arm.

Yesterday at a closed-door briefing with the family members, Ethiopian officials said DNA results would be announced between five to six months from the date the sample is collected. This means they will have to wait until August to know the findings.

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DNA samples are being collected at Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa. Those who cannot make it to Ethiopia have been asked to visit any point of origin through the Ethiopian Airlines Group (ETG) international offices closest to them.

Personal belongings of the deceased will also be returned to the next of kin after proper verification within two months.

Some of the things found apart from pieces from the plane wreckage include torn passports, mobile phones and national identification documents. There were also some computer accessories including a keyboard belonging to one of the victims and papers believed to have been separated from a book by the impact.

There were also business cards, in many languages, pieces of shredded clothing and a host of personal care items.

A look at the crash site near Bishoftu, south of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, suggests that the plane could have come down at a near vertical trajectory and slammed into the ground causing a deep crater just six minutes after take off.

Death certificates will be issued in the next two weeks and will be dispatched to immediate next of kin addresses given. Those departing earlier will be given temporary letters of evidence. The airline says it will continue facilitating site visits upon the request of victim families until May.

“Families can take soil from the crash site and a letter will be issued from the Ethiopian Airlines attesting the same for custom’s clearance at the airport,” an advisory note issued by the airline to the families of the victims seen by the Sunday Nation reads in part.

The airline also said it will give refunds for incidental payments to cover out of pocket expenses incurred by relatives of the victims. The payments will be done through bank transfers or at the destination convenient to families.

“Incidental payment will be made to the next of kin (father or mother or spouse or children),” the notice reads.

An original and copy of birth certificate or marriage certificate and passports will be required. Representatives from the concerned embassy shall appear as witnesses.

“Families who couldn’t fulfil the above mentioned requirements can get similar service at their respective or nearest area office of Ethiopian Airlines,” the notice adds.

The families yesterday started travelling back home having received the letters to help process death certificates and burial permits.

“We are going to get urns around here and package the soil we picked from the crash scene. After this we have no other business but go home and do a burial,” Nzioka said. His nephew, Bernard Musembi died in the crash.

He said the family plans to conduct a mock burial next Saturday in Mwala, Kabaa.

Meanwhile, new piece of evidence has been found that shows the similarities of the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of the Lion Air flight that fell in October last year.

The device known as the jackscrew found in the wreckage suggests that the pilot may have had a problem with a new flight control system.

The jackscrew indicates the jet was configured to dive and this is what may have caused the accident last week. Reports indicate that in the last moments, Captain Yared Getachew reported in a calm voice that he was having a flight control problem. He then asked to be cleared to return. This time his voice was panicky.

According to the New York Times, a source who had reviewed the communications from flight 302, said the pilot told controllers: “Break, break, request back to home.”

He was allowed to return but this never happened.

Other theories being pursued include a malfunctioning of the software that made the pilot unable to control the plane.

In France, aviation investigators began working on Friday after receiving the heavily damaged data voice recorders as they attempt to figure out what went wrong. Their task will be to reconstruct the six-minute flight from Bole Airport before the plunge.



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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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