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Kenya-Somalia fail to end border row

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By VINCENT ACHUKA
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The search for an out-of-court solution for the Kenya-Somalia dispute over their common border has hit a snag, paving the way for a legal battle at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Nairobi is putting together final touches on papers for the case, which will begin in September in The Hague. In 2016, Kenya failed to convince the ICJ that it was not within its jurisdiction to determine the matter.

Some of the submissions Kenya will make in September include the results of an expensive seismic study to prove that the ocean floor of the disputed area includes minerals eroded from rivers in Kenya scattered over 300 nautical miles from the shore.

Chinese scientists, in collaboration with local geologists, are compiling data from the study in Beijing. Officials from the State Law Office said the process is complicated and requires expertise not available in Kenya.

Nairobi has all along insisted that the boundary is determined by a parallel line to the east set by colonial powers. 

Somalia, however, says the boundary extends to the southeast as an extension of its land border.

If Mogadishu wins the case, a large swathe of Kenya’s land will fall in the hands of Somalia.

For its part, Kenya insists that the land is within its continental shelf as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Article 76 of the UNCLOS treaty signed in 1982 says: “The continental margin comprises the submerged prolongation of the land mass of the coastal State, and consists of the seabed and subsoil of the shelf, the slope and the rise.”

Without a political solution in sight, it appears that Nairobi has resorted to piling pressure on Mogadishu even as it prepares for a legal battle. On Thursday, officials at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) declined to comment on whether the surprise retreat of troops to the border is part of the strategy. On Tuesday, the Nation exclusively reported that Kenyan troops had abandoned their bases in Bursar, Bardera, El Adde, Taraka and Fafadun.

Two weeks ago, Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmajo was in Nairobi in an effort to find a diplomatic solution for the crisis, but his meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta did not yield any results. In fact, State House remained mum over the results of the meeting while Mr Farmajo’s office issued a statement.

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“The agenda of the talks included a diplomatic solution and the president has agreed to restore and strengthen ties and co-operation between the two countries based on mutual respect and co-operation in the areas of security, economy, human trafficking and trade,” said Mr Farmaajo.

As a solution remains elusive, Nairobi has resorted to doing all it can to force Mogadishu to withdraw its interest in the 142,400-square-kilometre area of ocean that has rich oil deposits.

This turn of events is informed by the realisation that Somalia had planned to sell off oil blocks in the area by September.

This will be just about the same time when the case starts, which could create more legal and political hurdles.

A slide show for a presentation made in London by American seismic company Spectrum Geo on behalf of Somalia shows that the results of the auction will be made public on September 19.

Under the plan, Somalia has given firms willing to bid up to July 4 to ask any questions regarding their qualification.

The companies will then have up to July 11 to enter bids and the government will on August 29 “qualify operators and non-operators”.

A study of documents dating back four decades shows the genesis of the matter was in 1979, when President Daniel arap Moi wrote to the UN declaring ownership of the ocean space in dispute.

Thirty years later in 2005, Mr Moi’s successor Mwai Kibaki also made a similar pronouncement. Then in 2009 both countries signed a deal that the border would run east along the line of latitude. The agreement was registered at the UN secretariat in June 2009. 

On October 10, Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke wrote the UN saying the Transitional Federal Parliament had rejected the agreement and requested that it be treated “as non-actionable”.

Kenya, however, argues that the deal is an international treaty that is legally binding on the parties.



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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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