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November 16, 1968 - Image 3

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The Michigan Daily, 1968-11-16

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Saturday, November 16, 1968

,rHE MICHIGAN DAILY

Page Three

w

Sa turdav November 16. 1968 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

STARVATION CONTINUES

In Biafra,

fighting is

the only alternative

the
news today
by The Associated Press and College Press Service

By HUGH A. MULLIGAN
Associated Press Special Correspondent
UMUAHIA, Biafra () -
Among the living in Baifra,
death is an everyday way of
life.
Like the vultures constantly
circling in the cloudless tropical
sky, it casts its shadow every-
where: on soldiers, on civilians,
most of all on children, who are
dying at a rate unprecedented
even in modern warfare.
"Last week 15 children died
here, now even some of the ad-
ults are beginning to fail," said,
Sister Miriam de Paul at the
feeding center at Uboma, where
the line of mothers and children
waitnng for the once daily dis-
tribution' of relief, food stretch-
ed for nearly a mile down the
dusty road and where guards
with red cross arm bands on
their sleeves and b am b oo
switches in their hands beat off
those who tried to crash the line
or come back twice..
"In my parish last month 902
people died, most of them of
starvation; of these, 517 were
children," said Father Aengus
Finucane of Limerick, Ireland, a
. Holy Ghost father, whose parish

church almost marks the end of
the runway at "Airstrip Anna-
belle," the stretch of highway
cutting through the jungle that
is the last remaining airfield in
'the hands of the secessionist
Biafran forces.
"Of the 144 children admitted
last month, 40 have died, and
we try to take only those cases
that seem to have a chance,"
said Mathon E. A. Bert of Lon-
don, head nurse at the Queen
Elizabeth Hospital in Umuahia,
a 184-bed hospital that now has
nearly 800 patients, most of
them wounded Biafran soldiers
stretched out on the lawns and
in the corridors waiting to share
a bed.
TALK OF DEATH
On the outskirts of Okigwi,
which tpe Biafrans are trying to
retake 'from the Nigerians, Col.
Joseph Achuzia, commander of
the 15th Biafran Division, halts
his two advancing columns and
waits for the morning mortar
barrage to abate. His conversa-
tion, like most in Baifra, turns to
the random subject of death.
"Yesterday," he said, "there
were so many bodies piled up at
the crossroads, the armored car
couldn't get through. Among
the dead in the town were four
European Red Cross workers,
who elected to stay and were
shot. Very foolish. One of the
first things the Nigerians do on
entering a town is to treat all
white men as mercenaries. It is
usually 48 hours before any re-
sponsible officer arrives to stop
the killing."
STAVATION APPALLING
No one knows for sure at what
rate the Biafrans are dying,
from the war, from starvation.
Father Antony Byrne of CARI-
TAS, the Catholic Relief Agen-
cy, puts the figure at 6,000 a
day. Dr. Herman Middlekoop; a
ed out of his hospital at Iti-
Dutch physician who was bomb-
gidi and now heads Biafran re-

lief for the World Counicl of
Churches, says it may run as
high as 25,000 a day, counting
the Ibo tribesmen who have fled
into the bush where relief sup-
plies can't reach them.
And yet, Biafra goes on fight-
ing. More desperate now than a,
month ago, more determined
now than a month ago. W h y ?
What can possibly be gained if
all the people are lost?
The question was put to Lt.
Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu
Ojukwu, the bearded, Oxford-
educated soldier who serves as
Biafra's head of state.
Ojukwu raised his sad eyes to-
ward the distant jungle, where
symbolically or not the sun was
setting, and spoke in a voice al-
most as low and throbbing as a
tribal death drum: "The. only
reason why we are alive today
is because we have our rifles in
our hands, but for that the mas-
sacre would be complete."
And nearly every Ibo tribes-
man you meet, soldier in the
field of school boy with no
school to attend, really believ-
es that if he stops fighting, he
must start running, because to
fall into the hands of the federal
troops means certain death.
Armed with British armored
cars and heavy mortars, Rusian
MIG fighters and Czechoslovak-
ian Ilyusian bombers, the Niger-
ian federal forces set out 17
months ago to crush a rebellion
by Ibo tribesmen in eastern
Nigeria which threatened to
tear apart the federation of 250
diverse tribes, speaking 36 dif-
ferent languages, that won in-
dependence from Great Britain
in 1960.
The war that was supposed to
be over in a month, dragged
on to become the tragic, heart-
tearing thing it is now, prolong-
ed by the fierce determination
of the Ibos, made more' ghastly
than anything Vietnam has ex-
perienced by a phenomenal out-
break of kwashiorkor, the pro-
tein deficiency disease that al-
ways has been prevalent in west
African but now reached epi-
demic proportions.
Even now with church flights
from the Portuguese island of
Sao Tome and Red Cross flights
from the island of Fernando Po
in equatorial Ghana braving the
Nigerian ack-ack to fly in 100
tons of relief foods a night to
airstrip Annabelle, the dead and
the dying are everywhere.
CHILDREN GO FIRST
They're not dropping on the
roads, as they were a month or
so ago, but every backwoods
sick bay, every feeding station,
every refuge camp presents the
same sad spectacle of hollow-
eyed children with washboard
ribs and skeleton arms and legs

curled up on mats in the shade,
their throats capable only of
making low croaking sounds,
their shrinking bodies already
encased in a leatherly coccoon
of scaly sores.
"The problem is not becoming
less acute, if anything it's get-
ting worse, but now we can do a
little more about it," said Sister
Ann Obeta at the Umuokpara
sick bay, where the nuns were
coaxing the children to sing and
dance to keep from falling into
a fatal sleep.
"Gowan, Gowan," they sang,
"his teeth are rotting from eat-
ing ground nuts, the Hausas
all have horns in their heads."
The song ridiculed Maj. Gen.
"Jack" Yakabu, Gowan, the
Sandhurst-trained son of a
Methodist missionary who is
Nigeria's chief soldier and chief
of state, and the Hausa tribe,
the Emir-ruled Moslem people
from the north who have long
been the major rivals of the
Ibos.
SOME HELP
Until Britain came to the aid
of its Commonwealth partner
with a massive infusion of ar-
mored cars, automatic rifles and
antiaircraft guns, the war was
going badly for the federation
and Biafran troops seemed on
the verge of marching on Lagos.
Ammunition was so short
front line soldiers were rationed
to 10 rounds apiece. Gasoline
was so short, it often took three
days to transport' wounded sol-
diers 20 miles to a hospital.
"We have no hope of win-
ning," said Maj. Taffy Williams
of Wales and South Africa, by
rank assistant commander of
Biafra's Fourth Commando Di-
vision, by profession, a merce-
nary.
"They're pushing on every
side. We've got to stand and
fight. We can't afford to get any
smaller. The refugee problem
already is overwhelming. We're
outnumbered five to one, but if
we had the arms we could push
them back. As it is we now do
most of the fighting with 'Go-
wan donated arms," a refer-
ence to the weapons captured
from the federal troops by the
Biafrans.
For several months now, the
ground war has followed a de-
finable pattern. The federal
troops, advancing under a roll-
ing barrage of artillery fire,
have managed to capture the
major cities like Aba, Port Har-,
court and Enugu.
Their squadrons of British-
biult armored cars, ferrets, sa-
ladins and saracens, have en-
abled them to control most of
the major roads. Many of the
cities and villages they capture

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SUN., MON., NOV. 17-18
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SUN. NOV. 24-MON. NOV. 25
Goddard's "LES CARAINIERS"

are already empty of people,
who flee into the bush at the
first word of approaching feder-
al troops.
The Nigerians fight mostly
by days, frequently only until
noon, when either their am-
munition runs out or the sup-
ply trucks and helicopters arrive
with food rations. The Biafrans,
who control most of the back-
roads and operate from the
bush, have gone more and more
to guerilla-type fighting at dusk
or dawn. They can counter-
attack to regain a village or
airfield, but seldom have enough
ammunition to maintain their
gains.
Biafrans claim the Nigerians
are using their air superiority to
wipe out the divilian population.
According to Lt. Col. Odjuku,
only 19 Biafran soldiers have
been killed in air raids since the
awr started, but tens of thou-
sands of civilians, many of them
children, have been killed or
maimed in daylight raids on
such nonmilitary targets as the
marketplace at Aguleri, te
feeding center at Owerrinta,
Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital
at Ihalia.
The Nigerians angrily deny
the genocide charges, pointing
to the thousands of Ibo tribes-
men who have remained behind
federal lines without prejudice
or bodily harm. The denials are
pretty much supported by the
team of international observers
sent in by the Organization of
African Unity at the request of
the federation to investigate
claims of whole villages being
wiped out by advancing troops.
The fact that the observers so
far have operated only on the
Nigerian 'side of the fighting
has led to scepticism not only
among the Biafrans but also
among the European priests,
doctors and relief workersliv-
ing on the secessionist side of
the line.
In answer to the charge of
systematically starving the ci-
vilian population, the Nigerians
with some justification argue
that Ojukwu has condoned and
abetted the plight of his people
both as a propaganda weapon to
win world sympathy and as a
cover for importing arms, along
with relief foods, into the air-
strip at Annabelle. They point to
his consistent refusal of Nige-
rian offers to open an overland
mercy corridor from Lagos or
Port Harcourt and his rejection
of daylight flights into Anna-
belle. Ojukwu bases his refusal
on his oft-stated fear that in-
stead of searching for arms in
the relief shipments the Nige-
rians would resort to the an-
cient African weapon of poison-
ing.
A month ago Biafra seemed
on the verge of capitulation,
now even the doctors and
priests who want to stop the
war and the civil servant class
that have grown weary of it are
Dial 56290
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convinced that a majority of the
Ibos will turn to complete guer-
rilla warfare and fight on even
after the last town falls.
There is growing evidence
that there has been a startling
improvement in the ammunition
situation. By conservative esti-
mates, for every 100 tons of re-
lief foods and medicines land-
ing at Annabelle from Sao
Tome and Fernando Po, at least
40 and perhaps as much as 80
tons of arms are flown in from
Libreville in the former French
colony of Gabon, Abidjan on
the Ivory .Coast and Lisbon,
which from the start of the war
has been the main collection
point for arms to Biafra.
On the night this reporter
was leaving Biafra, work crews
chanting tribal songs were busy
unloading crates marked "U.S.
105-howitzer shells," and "U.S.
Rifle Ml" from an oil-splat-
tered, unmarked Superconstel-
lation known affectionately as
"the Grey Ghost."
"Another shipment of toys,
courtesy of you NATO agree-
ment, said one of the Irish
priests disgustedly. "The people
need fresh blood and their lead-
ers bring them bullets."
MERCENARIES
In addition to a transfusion of
arms, Biafra, once on the point
of fiscal collapse, reportedly has
had a recent bolstering of its
treasury. Mercenaries don't
come cheap in this part of the
world: the lowliest private gets
$1,000 a month in U.S. green,
payable in cash, plus 38 Bafran
pounds. Pilots and officers can
command three times as much,
Biafran, from interviews with
dozen of mercenaries, has nev-
er missed a payment.
"If they did," said a com-
mander from Belgium by way 91
Rhodesia, "we wouldn't be
here."
Where does the money come
from?
Sources at the British Foreign
Office and the Nigerian High
Commissioner's. office in Lon-
don hint darkly that the oil
companies are supporting the
war. Yet all of the major oil
field and refineries - Shell,
Royal Dutch, British Petroleum
-are in the hands of federal
troops. The only exception are
some oil fields owned by Total,
a French firm, that straddle
Biafran and Nigerian territory.
Whitehall also gives credence
to a constant rumor that a large
international b a n k i n g firm
headquartered in New York re-
cently loaned the secessionist
government four and a half mil-
lion pounds in exchange for
Biafra's uranium and colum-
bite rights.
The Biafrans, almost to a
man, are equally convinced that
the United States has been less
than neutral in the war. They
blamed the CIA for sabotaging
the wings of a Mystere jet that
blew up at the Bissua airport
in Portuguese Guinea after the
fuselage arrived safely at Sao
Tome island on a previous flight.
Part of the anti-Americanism
is disillusionment with the fail-
ure of the United States, where
many of the Ibo intellectuals
went to college, to help out even
with relief supplies to the starv-
ing children. Ojukwu and other
Biafrian leaders sarcastically
write it off as the price America
has to pay for England's sup-
port of the war in Vietnam.
Despite the bleak outlook pes-
simism does not trouble the
Ibos.
Anyone flying into the jungle
Annabelle airstrip knows that
the Biafrans have had a taste of
nationhood,however short, and
they- love it,, even down to its
most bureaucratic trimmings.
"The Biafrans have a saying,"

said Fatther Doheny, sadly one
night. "Osundu Agwuike-which
means when a man is running
for his life, he never gets tired."

-Next-
BARBARELLA "
r -_
SHOWS
AT
7:10 & 9:20
1-3-5-
5thI
WEEK

NO 2-6264

PRESIDENT NGUYEN VAN THIEU may end his boy-
cott of the Paris peace talks, Saigon sources said yesterday.
The informants said there is a possibility Thieu may end
his boycott within two weeks if he gets reassurances from
the United States. The reassurances include a pledge from
Washington that Thieu will never have to accept a coalition
with the Viet Cong.
Saigon officials say any decision on the peace talks prob-
ably would follow a reshuffling of the cabinet to make it
stronger.
Informants said Premier Tran Van Huong had sub-
mitted his resignation to Thieu Thursday, but the pre-
meir's press spokesman denied this. One government source
insisted, however, that Huong would only stay in office if
the Saigon government could meet the domestic and political
problems arising from the Paris negotiations.. The source
contihued if Huong did resign it would severely hamper
Thieu's attempt to build a stronger cabinet.
THE NATION'S BISHOPS yesterday opened the way
for Catholic couples to use contraceptives if their con-
sciences permit it.
The bishops said couples will not be cut off from com-
munion or turned away from the church for breaking Pope
Paul's ban on all artificial birth control.
The Catholic leaders stressed their support for the Pope's
encyclical on birth control but recognized that married
couples may be faced with conflicts. They explained, however,
that the ruling must not be a shallow or self-serving decision,
but married couples must weigh their decision "as if they
stood before God,"
SECRETARY OF STATE DEAN RUSK yesterday told
NATO foreign ministers in Brussels that any Soviet at-
tack on Yugoslavia or Austria would imperil the security
of the whole organization.
Rusk reportedly told the foreign ministers who are be-
ginning a two-day survey of world affairs, that a Aussian
thrust into Romania would spark "an even greater crisis
for Europe" than the invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford Thursday told NATO
defense ministers the United States will accelerate its mili-
tary strength for the alliance. He outlined a six point pro-
gram for the increase which includes replacing F-102 fighter
planes in Europe with F-4 Phantom Jets.
Clifford also said two army infantry brigades and four
Air Force squadrons will be sent to Europe' for maneuvers
early next year.
THE CZECH COMMUNIST PARTY debated .policy
yesterday in the second day of the Central Committee's
three-day meeting.
The debate was carried on behind closed doors and: only
minimal reports filtered out. According to these reports pro-
Soviet speakers were 'making personal attacks on party chief
Alexander Dubcek.
In the opening session Thursday Dubeek outlined a poli-
tical program designed to reconcile the liberalizing aspira-
tions of his "humanistic socialism" with Soviet guidelines.
Ducek admitted, however, that the Soviet-led invasions in
August meant an end to "nearly all" the popular reforms.
Prague students planned a sit-in at their schools to pro-
test recent clampdowns on the press and on demonstrations.
Student leaders reconsidered, however, after the government
threatened to use force to stop the protest.
PRESIDENT-ELECT NIXON yesterday expressed con-
fidence to the Soviet Union in obtaining world peace and
security.
In a message to Nikolai Podorny, chairman of the Soviet
Presidium, Nixon said he believes there can be "great strides"
toward world peace. Nixon said it is essential that both coun-
tries work together "in a spirit of mutual respect."
During his campaign, Nixon said he favored a series of
summit meetings between U.S. and Soviet leaders, but aides
said his message to Podgorny did not mention that possibility.
YALE UNIVERSITY announced yesterday it will ad-
mit undergraduate women next fall for the first time in
its 267-year history.
Kingston Brewster, Jr., president of Yale said 500 girls
would be enrolled next September to "enhance Yale's con-
tribution to the generations ahead."
The girls will be Yale students in every sense, he explain-
ed. They will be eligible for the same courses as Yale men

armd treated equally by the administration.
Brewster said the University's ultimate goal is to have
at least 1,500 women undergraduates. The projected cost to
institute coeducation is estimated at $55 million.

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