Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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James Phillips ─ Biafra at 50: A War Remembered

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room, 3rd Floor, 111 Thayer Street

Reception to follow.

By some estimates, the Nigerian Civil War was the greatest catastrophe ever to have occurred in Africa. Over the June, 1967 to January, 1970 period, the conflict may have claimed as many as two million lives. This presentation will be delivered by a former relief officer of the International Committee of the Red Cross who participated in the Biafra relief action over the May to October, 1969 period as an entry-level logistics worker, and from November 1969 to July 1970 as a “UN Forward Observer” assigned to the Third Division of the Nigerian Army. The presentation outlines causes and consequences of the conflict, procedures followed by the relief action, and examples of strategies that failed to have their intended impact. Lessons from Biafra attest to the value of implementation science in crisis situations.

Africa Initiative

James Phillips is currently Professor, Population and Family Health, Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where he teaches demography and directs research on health systems development in Africa.