176. Transcript of Telephone Conversation1 2

K: We have to get the Nigerians to let the stuff in there. Most of the measure We put 8 C–130ʼs and helicopters on alert and $1 million for relief agencies. They asked last week for jeeps, trucks and hospitals. The jeeps are there. The trucks are being flown in at $17 thousand a truck. The hospitals ? ? ? ? ?. They have been asking for more. You were briefed on the Western report. Today they asked for planes and we are sending four Red Cross and 2 ? ?, 10,000 blankets and lamps, 3 thousand 7 ?, 6,000 tons of food, 40,000 tons of food for the next 30 days and then the same again. The problem is to get it into the enclave itself. Now only on the edges. This is, just as a friend, we suffer no agony if a little hint, particularly over Nigeria. We Are doing all we can. We can make a number of grandstand plays that will not get the food in.

T: You take ? ? ? ? ? Newsom and Ferguson were very frank. I have never heard in the last 7 or 8 nears a report as frank. We have had good sources and telegrams that came through the Department about the 3rd division and Red Cross efforts. I was very impressed and complimented the Administration on that. The problem from that Ferguson report is 30–60 percent are dying. The best estimate for today. That is pretty emotional. But in terms of their report and considering 10 million people dying. You have 100 tons of food in short. Your reports say

K: We made ten thousand tons of wheat

T: Thatʼs their figure and how much to distribution places? Eleven days have gone by and the situation is deteriorating in terms of security. Efforts by the NRC are at a standstill. One division is out of control. Your reports this morning say it is falling apart. The other report that the relief personnel previously were effective but now they are closed down.

K: What should we do?

T: I think it is important to get international observers in there. I would get & more than 17.

K: You saw what U Thant said this week

T: That Chief Justice Dohemi is an effective contact I donʼt know how valid that is and he could work with the Government. Your people would probably know. The relief people think and saw isolated people being fingered over there. I am sure there isnʼt mass genocide. But if we can get more in there. It is terribly important. In terms of this ? ? ? ? keep relief personnel in there to distribute. If we could keep people and personnel in there. Where the hell is Ojukwu? You probably know. What about effort—if he did said he wouldnʼt so in again if he could go in for a few days to get things sorted out?

[Page 2]

T: (cont.) We have to build hate (?) and if the Administration says nothing is getting done. These people resent our talking about their problem

K: The agony of this thing is so great we have been building all kinds of fires. The bureaucracy says this is a diplomatic problem. Let me see what I can do. This is not turn you off. Its not a political issue

T: I just think the situation will be that in 10 days when the next people go in there they will find an incredible situation. I think it is damn frustrating. One of the disappointing things is that before this the others said there was no genocide but they were at Owerri which was captured 12 months ago.

K: All I can tell you Ted is above all to make clear that as long as I have been here I have not agonized over a problem like this. And the obstacles put in the way by the bureaucracy on the one side and the African sensitivities on the other. The President is very concerned. He wanted me to let you know.

T: Newsom and Ferguson made a point but Goodell started going on it.

K: Our next point is to do some of what you mentioned and get food into the area

T: The Biafrans wouldnʼt accept church aid but you can free up the food. Ferguson said they are working on that. You have the plans there.

K: That has significance to Nigeria.

T: They are letting plans into Nigeria but no further. They said they could handle it but

K: Letʼs stay in touch

T: Yes

K: This is one in which we are both working for the same thing and the President wanted you to know what we are doing and that we are trying to do more. In this buildng we are trying to build fires. If you have any ideas that you feel are not being looked at, let me know.

T: You have a limited team (?) for access but may be thereʼs something there.

K: Letʼs talk again early next week.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 361, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking.
  2. In a conversation with Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Kissinger, Senator Edward Kennedy expressed concern over the possibility that 30 to 60 percent of Biafrans might die. Kissinger expressed his frustration at bureaucratic obstacles and African sensitivities.