The Biafran secession arose out of Nigeria’s most serious problem: distrust between the country’s major ethnic groups. Late in 1965 this distrust brought the processes of government in Africa’s most populous state almost to a standstill. By May 30, 1967, breakaway Biafra had announced its independence.
Early this month, as rivers of refugees clogged the roadways with nothing to do but to die, the lingering war came to a halt as Biafra capitulated and its leader, General C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, fled the country. But the collapse of the starving secessionist state by no means marked the end of the conflict—or the distrust.
Three days after thousands of Biafran soldiers surrendered, Nigeria’s leader, General Yakubu Gowon, assailed the international relief agencies coordinated through Joint Church Aid (JCA) and said: “Let them keep their blood money. We don’t want their help or assistance.” The day before, amid a hail of machine-gun fire, the last JCA plane roared away from the rough airstrip at Uga, thirty miles east of the captured main Biafran airport, with forty-five refugees aboard. An attempted flight to return with food was aborted.
Meanwhile, an estimated 24,000 tons of supplies were stockpiled in Nigeria—some of the food probably spoiling. Dr. Clyde W. Taylor of the National Association of Evangelicals declared: “This could be genocide, if the Nigerians don’t do anything with it.” The NAE World Relief Committee has cooperated with Caritas, the Catholic relief agency; the American Jewish Committee; and the Protestant Church World Service—which has spent over $1 million a month since August of 1968—in aid to Biafra.
Taylor and Nancy Nicalo, a director of Church World Service’s Africa department, told CHRISTIANITY TODAY they were ...1
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