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Mayer Returns Safe From Biafra, Reports Two Million Face Death


Returning from a 10-day tour of Nigeria and Biafra, Jean Mayer, professor of Nutrition at the School of Public Health, reports that two million Biafrans will die this year unless the current situation changes radically.

Mayer led the technical staff of the first official United States fact-finding mission to examine first-hand the Nigerian civil war. Sen. Charles E. Goodell (R.N.Y.), who also made the trek to Nigeria, was in charge of the mission's diplomatic aspects.

Mayer said, "The mission had two goals: first to ascertain the extent of the needs of both Biafra and Nigeria and, second, to determine ways to transport relief to blockaded Biafra."

Food Running Out

The six-man technical staff, which was composed of experts on African problems, found that the Biafran's good supply will decline sharply in two months. "Their diet has always been dangerously low on proteins, but in April the calorie level itself will drop very sharply," Mayer said.

Goodell and Mayer discovered that Nigeria is suffering from many of the same problems as Biafra, but that the Biafran's situation is incomparably more serious because relief supplies and volunteers cannot reach Biafran victims.

"Although the chief of the Nigerian government personally guaranteed our plane safe conduct into Biafra, our mission was bombed every day of our visit," Mayer said. "Naturally this lack of trust-worthiness makes any kind of negotiations very difficult," he added.

Mayer said a copy of the mission's 36-page report, which asks for "decisive action" to save millions of Biafran men and women, has been submitted to President Nixon and his top advisors.

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