Early 1960s

October 1, 1960 – Nigeria gains independence from the United Kingdom


January 15, 1966 – Attempted coup d’état led by Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna and other junior Army officers and murder of numerous Northern political leaders; often referred to as “The Coup of the Five Majors”

January 16, 1966 – Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, head of the Nigerian Army, who aided in coup suppression efforts in the South, is declared head of state

January 17, 1966 – Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu becomes Military Governor of the Eastern region

July 29, 1966 – Mutiny by northern soldiers at the Abeokuta barracks, leading to a counter-coup and the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon as Supreme Commander of the Nigerian Armed Forces

September 29, 1966 – Considered to be the deadliest day during a season of Igbo killings in pogroms in the North; millions of persecuted Igbo flee to the Eastern region


May 27, 1967 – Gowon declares the division of Nigeria in 12 states, which includes splitting the Eastern Region into three parts, meaning the Igbos lose control of the majority of the Eastern Region’s oil

May 30, 1967 – Ojukwu declares the independence of the Republic of Biafra

June 1967 – Federal Military Government (FMG) places an embargo on the shipping of goods to and from Biafra, excluding oil tankers; complete embargo, including oil, begins at the end of June 1967

July 6, 1967 – War begins when Nigerian Federal troops attack Biafran soldiers

December 1967 – Catholic Church brings supplies into Biafra via Nigerian military flights that were running the blockade of Biafra

Late 1967 – Founding of the American Committee to Keep Biafra Alive, an organization with a mission to inform and educate Americans about the Nigeria-Biafra War


Early 1968 – War reaches a stalemate, with neither side able to make major gains

March 27, 1968 – First airlift into city of Port Harcourt, organized by Father Anthony Byrne, who also managed the Catholic relief operations in Biafra

April 1968 – British photojournalist Don McCullin arrives in Biafra; one of his most famous photographs of Biafra, entitled “Albino boy” was taken a year later in 1969

May 4, 1968 – Photographs by French photojournalist Gilles Caron of starving Biafran children and young Biafrans at war appear in publication of Paris Match

May 19, 1968 – Nigerian offensive captures city of Port Harcourt in Operation Tiger Claw

June 26, 1968 – The government of the Republic of Biafra releases a “Charge to Humanity” statement outlining the deteriorating situation in Biafra

July 4-20, 1968 – World Council of Churches (WCC) meets in Sweden and discusses relief actions taken since outbreak of Nigeria-Biafra War and what to do going forward

July 12, 1968 – Biafran children appear on the cover of Life magazine with headline “Starving Children of Biafra War”

August 7, 1968 – The announcement of the formation of the American Jewish Emergency Effort for Biafran Relief

September 1968 – FMG plans the “final offensive” meant to fully neutralize Biafran troops but are unsuccessful due to Biafran ambushes

September 8, 1968 – “The ‘Point of No Return’ For the Biafrans” article written by Lloyd Garrison published in The New York Times

September 13, 1968 – The National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America meets in Houston, Texas and condemns the mass starvation occurring in Biafra, calling it a “human tragedy” and appealing for increased humanitarian relief

October 4, 1968 – Executive Director of the Church World Service (CWS) James MacCracken delivers statement before Senate Foreign Relations Committee concerning assistance in Nigeria and Biafra

November 1968 – Formation of the Joint Church Aid (JCA), a group of churches from 33 countries that worked together to increase the aid flow to Biafra

December 15, 1968 – A JCA airlift leaves for Biafra carrying 100,000 doses of the measles vaccine and 40 tons of food


February 22, 1969 – Nixon appoints Dr. Clarence Clyde Ferguson Jr. as the US Special Coordinator on Relief to the Civilian Victims of the Nigeria Civil War

March 1969 – Biafrans begin multiple offensives against the FMG; recapture town of Owerri and come close to recapturing port city of Port Harcourt

May 1969 – Biafrans raid oil field in Kwale

May 22-July 8, 1969 – Biafrans commence land offensive reinforced by foreign mercenary pilots, attacking military airfields in Enugu, Port Harcourt, Ughelli, and Benin City

June 30, 1969 – Nigeria bans International Committee of the Red Cross aid to Biafra; the American Jewish Emergency Effort for Biafran Relief has raised a total of $185,000

December 23, 1969 – FMG begins its final offensive against Biafra, which splits the Biafran territory into two


January 7, 1970 – Nigerian launches its offensive “Operation Tail-Wind,” which successfully conquers towns of Owerri and Uli within 5 days

January 14, 1970 – Official surrender papers signed by Biafran Philip Effiong, deputy to Ojukwu who had fled to the Ivory Coast a few days prior