Civil War in Nigeria


December 6, 2021

The Civil War in Nigeria, also known as the Biafra War, lasted from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970 and was fought between the State of Nigeria and the self-proclaimed Republic of Biafra. The aftermath of the war became a global symbol of famine, and representatives of the Igbo people have repeatedly claimed that Biafra was subjected to genocide. The civil war caused heavy losses on both sides: 200,000 Nigerian soldiers and civilians, and an estimated 2 million Biafrans. The war ended with Nigerian victory and the re-incorporation of the territory with Nigeria.


The background to the civil war was a military coup that took place in Nigeria on January 15, 1966. The coup plotters were left-wing junior soldiers who formed a junta led by General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi. The regime met with fierce resistance and retaliation, which led to increased ethnic strife. In September, Christian Igbo were massacred in the Muslim-dominated areas in the north. At the same time, large oil deposits were discovered in southern Nigeria. On May 30, 1967, Igbon Odumegwu Ojukwu proclaimed the Republic of Biafra in the area of ​​the oil deposits. Although several countries were benevolent, the republic was recognized by only four states. Several peace talks broke down, the most notable of which was held in Aburi, Ghana, after which the war became a fact. The war began on July 6 when Nigerian troops entered Biafra. The city of Nsukka fell as early as July 14, but the Biafrans went on the offensive, captured Benin City and crossed the border on August 21 with their troops. The Swede Carl Gustav von Rosen assisted Biafra and led a group of pilots in founding an air force that came to be known as "Biafra Babies" and it consisted of smuggled MFI-9B. During the first months, several gains and withdrawals occurred, and the front was moved long distances. From 1968 the war stagnated, and no major changes took place. In June 1968, the Nigerians surrounded and blocked Biafra, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe. The civilian population starved, partly because crops were destroyed. Pictures of biafra children with stomachs that caused the hunger to swell spread all over the world. According to the Biafrans themselves, the famine was a deliberate step in the effort to get them to capitulate. The Red Cross and other international aid organizations sent staff to Biafra, but were attacked by the Nigerian army. Among the doctors who traveled there was the Frenchman Bernard Kouchner. He came to the conclusion that a new organization was needed, and he therefore founded Médecins Sans Frontières in 1971. Thanks to the aid shipments of the outside world, the Biafrans were able to launch a counter-offensive in June 1969. The Nigerians responded with an attack on December 23, 1969 and succeeded in sharing Biafra's enclave. On January 7, 1970, the final Nigerian offensive, called Operation Tail-Wind, began. On January 15, Biafra surrendered. According to some estimates, as many as 3 million people died in the war, and it is impossible to estimate the number of people suffering from it. Ethnic conflicts have continued in the area, and questions about the distribution of natural resources and demands for compensation have continued to lead to unrest and coups.

See also

Biafras history Nigeria's history A Half Yellow Sun, a novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie dealing with war.


This article is based in whole or in part on material from the English-language Wikipedia, earlier version.


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