Millions of people in southeastern Nigeria and abroad are set to pay homage to those who perished during the 1967-1970 Biafran war, also known as the Nigerian civil war. The commemoration, which takes place on 30 May, aims to remember what many people refer to as the "genocide" or "holocaust of the Biafran people".
The Biafran territories were forcibly annexed to modern-day Nigeria during British colonisation, which ended in 1960. Following two coup d'etats and the 1966 massacres of Igbo people in northern Nigeria, the contested Biafran territories, under the leadership of military officer and politicianChukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, seceded from Nigeria and declared independence on 30 May 1967.  The establishment of the Republic of Biafra sparked the war. The Nigerian government imposed strict blockades on food and medicines in Biafra and attacked hospitals and facilities run by humanitarian organisations, causing the deaths of between 1-3 million people.
The extent of starvation in the Biafran territories during the war sparked international condemnation and drew strong criticism against the Nigerian government.
During the war, a group of volunteers led by French doctor Bernard Kouchner entered the Biafran territories to assist people living there. When he returned to France, Kouchner openly criticised the Nigerian government and the humanitarian organisation Red Cross for what was perceived as a complicit behaviour that led to the starvation of many.  Moved by the extent of suffering witnessed in Biafra, Kouchner and other doctors created the Comité de Lutte contre le Génocide au Biafra, which became Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) in 1971. The Biafran Republic was re-annexed to Nigeria in 1970, but breakaway calls have continued since.
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