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Rev. Aengus Finucane, Nigeria’s civil war Aid worker dies at 77

The Rev. Aengus Finucane, a Roman Catholic missionary and Aid worker, who worked in Nigeria during the civil war, died on Tuesday. He was 77.

Father Finucane was a priest in the Spiritan Fathers order in Nigeria during the country’s 1967-1970 civil war with the breakaway state of Biafra. Determined to combat famine as the Nigerian military crushed the rebellion, he worked with Dublin-based workers to channel aid to Biafra through its often-bombed airstrip and by cargo ship.

Father Finucane later recalled how the Nigerian Air Force bombed the airstrip every day, but his parishioners “lined up in the forest with truckloads of gravel to fill the holes in the runway.”

That aid effort, initially known as Concern Africa, shortened its name to Concern in 1970 as it broadened its efforts, seeking to provide food, medical support and education in many of the world’s poorest countries.

His death, at the Spiritan Fathers’ residence for retired priests, followed a short illness, his charity, Concern, announced.

Father Finucane became Concern’s field director in Bangladesh in 1972 after its war of independence from Pakistan. He also worked in Thailand, Cambodia and Uganda.

He was the charity’s chief executive from 1981 to 1997 and then became its honorary president, leading fund-raising efforts in the United States.

Today the charity is one of Ireland’s biggest, with operations in 18 countries in Africa and 10 in Asia, including Afghanistan and North Korea.

Father Finucane, who was born in the western Irish city of Limerick, is survived by three brothers and two sisters.