Short wants UN refugee body inquiry

CLARE SHORT, the Secretary of State for International Development, called yesterday for a full inquiry into the performance of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees during the Kosovo conflict.

In a long-awaited response to MPs, Ms Short said the UNHCR should explain why it failed to react adequately to the exodus of ethnic Albanians fleeing the province.

Her call for an "independent, external valuation" of the agency's performance follows criticism from the Commons International Development Committee that it had badly mishandled the crisis.

Ms Short rejected claims that the Nato alliance should have built refugee camps in advance of the bombing, but agreed that UNHCR should have reacted much more quickly and efficiently.

In its own response to the MPs' criticism, the UNCHR admitted that it "should certainly have been better prepared".

Ms Short revealed that the Department for International Development had received no information about the UN's contingency planning process and was not invited to take part in the project.

The department had paid pounds 1.5m to the UNHCR for its Kosovo activity, but would in future link all funding to improvements in the agency's effectiveness.

Among the areas identified by the UK Government for improvement were contingency preparedness, field performance, financial accountability and openness.

The department's response to the MPs' report also makes clear that the huge problems with registration of refugees in the border camps in Macedonia and Albania were the fault of the UNHCR, and Ms Short complained about the issue at the time.

She denied that Britain had been unwilling to take large numbers of refugees and said the Government had made clear that it was up to the UN to find "suitable candidates" to be flown to Britain.

In her own submission, Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said she accepted that her organisation had not been sufficiently prepared, but would strive to do better in future.

Ms Ogata stressed, however, that the MPs' criticisms were largely unfair and failed to recognise that the Kosovo crisis had been a difficult and complex situation.

The select committee had described as a "disgraceful case of neglect", the UN's failure to check and keep the identity of all the refugees as soon as the came over the border. Ms Ogata said that such a system would have not been in the best interests of the refugees "whose immediate need for security, shelter and assistance was more important".

"Despite the problems and shortcomings, the rapidly mobilised response to the influxes did meet immediate life-sustaining needs, with minimal avoidable deaths among many hundreds of thousands of refugees," Ms Ogata said.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

year 1/2 Teacher

£21500 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: "Where teaching is e...

English Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: If working in an out...

EYFS, KS1, KS2 Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to be part ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?