89. Telegram 116456 From the Department of State to the Embassy in France and the U.S. Mission in Geneva1 2

For Ambassadors Shriver and Tubby from Under Secretary


  • Nigeria


  • Abidjan 1948

1. Abidjanʼs reftel indicates Houphouet in Paris, although we understood he remaining Geneva until July 16.

2. Either Paris or Geneva, whichever has access to Houphouet, should deliver Presidential letter to him immediately with understanding French text will be sent soonest. Text follows:

“Dear Mr. President:

I am well aware of your deep humanitarian concern over the effects of the civil war in Nigeria. As a friend of Africa, the United States also deplores this tragedy, particularly the suffering of innocent civilians.

“The present interruption of the international relief effort, if it continues, could bring about catastrophe. I am addressing urgent appeals to the International Committee of the Red Cross, Joint Church Aid and the Federal Military Government to exercise the utmost flexibility and cooperation in agreeing to a prompt resumption of the [Page 2] relief airlift into Biafra and the realization of the Cross River corridor. The United States is also taking other steps to encourage the immediate activation of these relief routes with reasonable safe-guards to meet the security concerns expressed by both Federal Nigeria and Biafra.

“I appeal to you, Mr. President, to use your great stature and special position to encourage the Biafran authorities to show the same statesmanship we have urged so strongly upon Federal Nigeria.

“My letter to General Gowon observed that history would judge harshly any Governmentʼs heedless acceptance of suffering in this conflict. That verdict would fall most heavily, however, on the Biafran authorities should they sacrifice, for military or political advantage, the very people whose survival they claim to be their goal.

“In a spirit of mutual humanitarian concern, I hope you will convey this appeal to General Ojukwu along with your own strong support for an equitable and immediate elimination of the obstacles to an effective relief program.

Richard Nixon


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27–9 Biafra-Nigeria. Secret; Exdis; Immediate. Drafted by Sherry (AF/W); cleared in S/S, AF, the White House, AF/CW, EUR/FBX, U/CF and U; and approved by Richardson.
  2. The Department transmitted a letter in which President Nixon urged Ivory Coast President Houphouet-Boigny to encourage Biafran authorities to agree to a prompt resumption of relief flights and realization of the Cross River corridor.