On kidnappings, campaigns and Twitter (and other random thoughts)

The recent kidnapping of over 200 girls in northern Nigeria, and what has followed – i.e. absolutely no one cared and then all of a sudden everyone cared – has made me want to put my thoughts down on paper again. I know this issue is being discussed left, right and center, so I’m not claiming to make any new arguments. To the contrary, I’m more interested in sharing some of what I’ve read on the issue and how I feel about the different arguments being made.

What’s most interesting for me, looking at this case from a broad point of view, is the lessons we can draw from it, when it comes to awareness-raising, advocacy, campaigning. For those of us who work in development, human rights, conflict resolution or related fields, either as advocates, researchers, journalists or even policy-makers, we are always faced with this dilemma: how can we raise-awareness, how can we get an issue on the table, in a way that doesn’t cause more harm than good? And how can we do this in a way that creates long-lasting change, rather a two-week frenzy that will die down as quickly as it took life? I think the case of the Chibok girls highlights these dilemmas.

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Boko Haram: getting involved beyond Francophone Africa?

On February 19th, a French family of 7 was kidnapped in the north of Cameroon, by the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. The case has drawn a significant amount of international attention and the French, Cameroonian and Nigerian governments are all taking active steps towards finding them. The fact that 4 of the 7 are children is certainly putting the pressure on.

French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius is off to Nigeria and Cameroon this week to meet with both presidents (I can’t find the official itinerary on the Ministry’s website but he tweeted it last week). So here’s a bit of background/personal analysis.

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