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Immediate action to address the escalating humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must be taken before the situation deteriorates further, urges the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

The recent advance of armed groups towards the key town of Sake, a crucial link connecting the city of Goma to the rest of the country, poses an imminent threat to the entire aid system in eastern DR Congo, with potentially devastating consequences for the civilian population. Increased violence has directly affected civilians with heavy artillery and mortar fire hitting settlements and densely populated areas, including Goma's outskirts.

"The safety of civilians must be paramount. All parties to the conflict must uphold their obligations under international law to protect civilians from harm. This includes ending attacks on civilians and ensuring unhindered access for humanitarian assistance,” said Eric Batonon, NRC country director in DRC.

"We are deeply concerned about the escalating violence and its devastating impact on innocent lives. The targeting of civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, is unacceptable and must stop immediately,” he added.

The isolation of Goma, home to over 2 million people and hosting hundreds of thousands of displaced individuals who have fled clashes with armed groups, would bring disastrous consequences to the region. The incremental isolation of the city hampers the ability of international humanitarian organisations to reach displaced people in the eastern region, exacerbating an already dire situation.

The recent escalation in the conflict in neighbouring Masisi, has further restricted humanitarian access, with over 630,000 displaced people remaining without access to essential services such as healthcare and food for over a week.

Displaced families fleeing violence and atrocities in North Kivu province require urgent assistance, including food, shelter, water, hygiene, and sanitation.

For instance, in the Rusayo 1 camp near Goma, 18,000 people arrived just over a single weekend this month, fleeing the fighting in Sake. Water supplies can only provide a little over 3 litres per person daily, compared to the minimum standard of 15 litres. Hygiene facilities are also extremely limited, with only one shower for every 500 people.

The arrival of displaced people is placing a severe strain on what limited resources do exist, and worsening shortages amongst the local community. Schools are often repurposed as temporary shelters, further depriving children of an education.

"The humanitarian response in the region was already on a precarious footing: now it teeters on the brink of collapse," said Batonon. “Humanitarian organisations on the ground require unimpeded access and support to meet the pressing needs of the vulnerable people who have been forced to flee. Just getting sufficient food to eat is a major challenge for people with all roads to Goma having been cut off by the fighting.”

As fighting intensifies and the humanitarian situation deteriorates, NRC urges all parties involved to prioritise the protection of civilians and facilitate unhindered access for humanitarian organisations. The international community must act swiftly to avert a catastrophic outcome and alleviate the suffering of millions caught in the crossfire of conflict in eastern DRC.

Facts and figures

  • In total, there are 5.8 million internally displaced people in Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, and Tanganyika combined (UNHCR).
  • Humanitarian organisations estimate that about 1 million people have been displaced since November 2023 (FONGI).
  • 135,000 displaced people moved towards Goma between 2nd and 7th February 2024. Others have taken shelter in schools, churches, and other makeshift settlements (OCHA).
  • The renewed violence in Masisi Territory is restricting humanitarian access to more than 630,000 displaced people who were already living in the area (OCHA).
  • According to an assessment carried out by NRC in DRC, 18,000 people arrived in the Ruyayo camp between 3rd and 5th February 2024. This assessment is also the source of the information included on conditions in the camp.
  • Goma is home to over 2 million people, with at least 500,000 displaced (OCHA).

The 650,000 barrels per day Dangote Refinery has concluded plans to export its first fuel cargoes, according to a report.

The refinery has issued tenders to sell two fuel cargoes for export, Reuters reported Wednesday, quoting trading sources with knowledge of the matter.

The first cargo is 65,000 metric tons of low-sulphur straight-run fuel oil, which Dangote has awarded to Trafigura and is due to load at the end of February, three of the sources said.

At least one refiner said they had been offered the cargo by Trafigura without elaborating further. The second tender is for about 60,000 tons of naphtha, three other sources said. Two of them noted that the tender closes on 15 February. Loading details were not immediately available, according to the report.

The report noted that Trafigura and Dangote declined a request to comment.

Dangote Petroleum Refinery had earlier in January commenced production of diesel and aviation fuel.

Announcing the commencement in a statement, the company said the refinery has so far received six million barrels of crude oil at its two SPMs located 25 kilometres from the shore.

The first crude delivery was done on 12 December 2023, and the 6th cargo was delivered on 8 January.

The first cargo that arrived at the plant was from Agbami crude grade from Shell International Trading and Shipping Company Limited (STASCO), one of the largest trading companies in Nigeria and globally, trading over 8 million barrels of crude oil daily. 

The company made a further move towards the commencement of the production of refined petroleum products with the receipt of an additional one million barrels of crude bonny light supplied by the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC Ltd). By Mary Izuaka, Premium Times

The entrance of Chemelil Sugar Company in Kisumu County

A High Court in Nairobi on Wednesday, February 14, temporarily halted the sale of 4 sugar milling companies. The ruling, issued by Justice Chacha Mwita, halted the privatisation until a case filed in court is heard and determined.  

“An interim conservatory order is hereby granted halting the tendering process under the international tender notice No. MOALD/SDA/IT/001/2023-2024,” read the court order.

The sugar companies halted for privatisation are Nzoia, Chemelil, Muhoroni and South Nyanza.

 
MITHIKA LINTURI

Petitioner Martin Nyongesa sued the Treasury and the Ministry of Agriculture alongside AG Muturi over the move to make a long-term lease of the four companies.

Nyongesa argued that there was no adequate public engagement by the government before deciding to lease out the four sugar companies. 

According to the court, the order halting the lease will remain in place until April 19, 2024, when the matter will be heard.

On January 16, the Ministry of Agriculture advertised bids from private investors seeking to own the sugar companies.

In a notice contained in the local dailies, the ministry demanded a deposit of Ksh10 million from prospective investors as security during the bidding process.

"Tenders will be opened immediately thereafter in the presence of candidates or their designated representatives who choose to attend at Kilimo House," read the notice by the Ministry of Agriculture. 

President William Ruto first made public his plans to privatise sugar companies in October last year arguing that the move would make them profitable and revitalise the sector.

The head of state insisted that the state would ensure prudent management of the factories to safeguard the interests of farmers. By Timothy Cerullo, Kenyans.co.ke

Young boys on top of a building follow proceedings during a political rally at Shianda market in Mumias East on August 5, 2022. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

In the perpetual cycle of elections, citizens often find themselves entrusting power to individuals who promise vision, intelligence, and reasonability, only to witness their transformation into kleptomaniacs and dictators. This enigma begs the question: Why do such figures persistently ascend to the apex of leadership? 

Blaming leaders alone overlooks a fundamental truth - the root cause lies within society’s values and aspirations. Leadership, akin to a contest, crowns those who best epitomise prevailing societal ideals. Just as beauty standards vary across cultures, so too do the traits revered in leaders. Whether it be a beauty pageant or a political race, the victor mirrors the collective ethos of their constituency.

Analogous to the natural order, where the mightiest creature reigns supreme, the ascent to leadership often favours the most dominant figure. Yet, amidst grievances over corrupt leadership, citizens seldom reflect on their role in the selection process. Every leader elevated to prominence is akin to a tortoise atop a post placed there by the hands of the electorate, albeit sometimes through flawed electoral processes. 

But why do citizens rally behind candidates with dubious credentials? The answer lies in the shared aspiration for personal gain. Beneath the façade of ethical governance, lurks the tacit acceptance of corruption if it benefits individual interests. Tribal affiliations further complicate matters, as voters prioritise representation over integrity, foreseeing a share of the spoils of corruption.

However, disillusionment strikes when the promised largesse fails to materialise. Locked out from the proverbial table of corruption, citizens bemoan their exclusion, oblivious to their complicity in elevating leaders who reflect their own aspirations.

Consider the allegory of the chicken coop. A negligent owner introduces a mongoose and is astounded by vanishing fowl. It’s a predictable outcome; the mongoose preys on chickens. Similarly, entrusting kleptomaniacs with resources guarantees misappropriation. 

Recall the timeless tale of the scorpion and the frog. The scorpion’s sting is inevitable, regardless of the consequences. Similarly, the penchant for corruption among leaders is inherent, manifesting despite societal expectations to the contrary.

The refrain, “people get the leaders they deserve,” rings true. Citizens elect reflections of their aspirations, not necessarily their virtues. To demand better leadership necessitates introspection and a recalibration of societal values. 

In essence, leadership reflects the collective aspirations and values of a society. To break the cycle of corrupt leadership, citizens must embark on a journey of self-reflection. Only by fostering a collective ethos of integrity and accountability can society usher in a new era of ethical governance.

As citizens reflect on leadership woes, the onus lies on each of them to examine their values and aspirations. Only then can we escape the clutches of the paradoxical cycle and chart a course towards a brighter future. By Njora Waweru, The Standard

Athletics Kenya has announced the postponement of the All African Games national trials in honour of Kelvin Kiptum.

Athletics Kenya have announced the cancellation of the All-African Games national trials that were scheduled for this weekend in honour of the late Kelvin Kiptum.

The event was scheduled for February 16 and 17 at the Nyayo National Stadium and Athletics Kenya has noted that a different date for the event will be announced.

“Athletics Kenya wishes to inform all athletes and the entire athletics fraternity that the Trials for the African Games which were scheduled to take place on 16th and 17th February 2024 at The Nyayo National Stadium have been cancelled in honor of the late Kelvin Kiptum.

“The selection process for the team that represents the country at the African Games which will be held on 18th to 22nd March 2024 in Accra, Ghana, will be announced in due course,” the statement from AK read.

Meanwhile, the reigning London Marathon champion and his coach Gervais Hakizimana died in a road accident Sunday night outside the Rift Valley town of Eldoret. The accident happened around 11 p.m. East African Time.

 

The 24-year-old, who was driving a Toyota Premio, and his coach died at the scene of the crash, Elgeyo Marakwet County Police Commander Peter Mulinge told Nation Sport. Mulinge added that a third occupant survived with serious injuries.

“He lost control, veered off the road, entered into a ditch 60 meters away, and hit a big tree,” Mulinge said.

Hakizimana, 36 was a former professional athlete from Rwanda who participated in different races from the 5,000 meter to the half marathon. By Abigael Wafula, Pulse Sports

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