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The Nigerian Civil War and ‘Humanitarian Intervention’

Aaronson, M (2013) The Nigerian Civil War and ‘Humanitarian Intervention’ In: The History and Practice of Humanitarian Intervention and Aid in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, pp. 176-196. ISBN 1137270012

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The 1967-70 Nigerian Civil War (also known as the "Biafran War") was notorious for the prolonged suffering of the civilian population in the secessionist enclave of “Biafra” and the failure of repeated international attempts to bring about an early end to the conflict. At the time the term "humanitarian intervention" was used to denote the international emergency relief operation, rather than a military intervention – which is how the term has subsequently come to be used. Ironically this humanitarian relief operation may have contributed to the prolongation of the war, and thereby added to the human suffering. In this chapter, based partly on my experience working on the ground in this conflict, I argue that other forms of intervention, which could just as reasonably be described as "humanitarian", were neglected by the principal international actors engaged with the conflict. I compare this state of affairs with subsequent approaches to intervention in Africa and elsewhere and conclude by suggesting that the lessons from "Biafra" could be used to inform a more enlightened approach to "humanitarian intervention" in present-day crises.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Department of Politics
Authors :
Aaronson, M
Editors :
Everill, B
Kaplan, J
Date : 24 June 2013
Uncontrolled Keywords : History
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 10 Oct 2013 14:29
Last Modified : 10 Apr 2017 08:24

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