The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
It goes without saying that the situation in north east Nigeria is perilous. Boko Haram and other armed groups have committed some of the most horrific crimes in recent years and have intensified their attacks this year. Residents of Bama - for example - have been living in constant fear of attacks by militant fighters. In February this year Boko Haram staged its most deadly assault on the town. Locals report that attack left almost 100 people dead and more than 200 injured. Improvised explosive devices and grenades were used to destroy huge swathes of the town.
Political illiteracy may not matter to those millions who support Boko Haram's nihilistic brand of jihadism, regardless of its negative impact on Nigeria's security, territorial integrity and communal relations. Yet, some may see the emergence of such violent insurrection as inevitable in a country plagued by corruption, state terror, political manipulation of ethnic divides and areas of extreme poverty.
We know there is a terrible price to be paid for silence in the face of violence; for apathy in the face of oppression; and for indifference in the face of injustice. We cannot stay silent and walk by on the other side of the road. We must stand up and speak out for those who cannot stand or speak for themselves. But we cannot do it on our own.
I was horrified to hear about the recent attacks in the coastal town of Mpeketoni - it just highlights how vulnerable poor communities are in the country and, in particular, women and girls. With the ongoing plight of the 300 abducted schoolgirls in Nigeria and the horrific killings of two teenage girls in India and now Pakistan, never before has there been a greater time, to raise funds and awareness to put a stop to such cruel practices and to safeguard the lives and education of girls across the developing world.
We are still fighting for the rights of children to have a free and quality education. It is now over two full months ago that more than 200 girls were abducted from a school in Chibok, northern Nigeria by the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram. This terrible situation is the worst nightmare any parent can experience.
Due to ineptitude, corruption and indiscriminate violence, the military is one of the causes of the insurgency, which now forms a strategic part of an arc of jihadism that stretches from Algeria to Somalia. Giving funds and resources to the Nigerian armed forces risks exacerbating the problem. Boko Haram thrives on the endemic corruption that has characterised post-independence Nigeria.
This week has seen a flurry of activity around an issue that for far too long has been forgotten, silenced or viewed as an inevitable consequence of war: sexual violence in conflict. All of this is extremely important - but in the rush to 'do something' about the horrific crimes being committed in Syria, Central African Republic, Nigeria, and other conflict zones, we should not forget some basic premises.