Now aid war hits refugees

Share
Related Topics
WHAT A bargain the war in Kosovo was. Governments have been keeping the details of the cost to themselves. For strategic reasons, you understand. But a US think-tank, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has done the sums and estimates that the 11-week bombing campaign cost somewhere between $2.3bn (pounds 1.4bn) and $4bn. This does not include the $2.8m a day it costs to keep an aircraft-carrier group at sea but it does embrace the 450 Tomahawk missiles fired by Nato ships - at $1m a piece - and the 90 conventional air-launched cruise missiles (CALCMs to the initiated), which cost $2m each because they had to be converted to ordinary warheads from the nuclear ones they were designed to carry. By comparison, the B-52s' high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs, of course) were cheap at $340,000 a go, and smart bombs a snip at $50,000 a throw.

These, of course, were just what the euphemism specialists who coined the phrase "collateral damage" call the "incremental" charges - those which are additional to the cost of having an army hanging around not doing very much at home. But, you see, it was all a lot cheaper than the Gulf war because the mileage between Nato bases and Yugoslavia is significantly shorter than the distances which had to be flown against Saddam. In any case, if you set the total expenditure against the combined revenues of the governments of Nato (which last year was $6,592bn) you will see that the direct military cost will hardly be noticeable to the West: if Britain ended up paying for one-tenth of the Kosovo venture that would be just 1 per cent of our government revenues.

All of which makes it even more mystifying to discover that, now the time has come to stump up the cash for getting the refugees back to their homes, the money seems suddenly to have dried up. With more than 850,000 Kosovars on the move - in the largest spontaneous return of refugees history has ever recorded - the UN High Commissioner for Refugees last week disclosed that his agency had received only $140m of the $400m requested to get people back home before winter sets in. The Geneva-based agency says it has enough money in the bank to keep the operation going for just another two weeks. UNHCR is on the verge of bankruptcy. Worse still, the head of the UN Development Programme has revealed that part of the little which is going to Kosovo is being siphoned off from funds destined for aid projects in Africa.

This newspaper spoke out strongly against the war on Kosovo as the bombs fell. We felt there were alternatives to war which had not been fully explored. But we have never cast doubt on the good faith of leaders such as Tony Blair in conducting it. Not everyone was as high-minded as the British Prime Minister. Behind much of the belligerence lay the attitude revealed in the writing of people like Thomas Friedman, the New York Times columnist who conducts the paper's twice-weekly lesson on foreign affairs. Milosevic, he said, had to be told: "Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverising you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too." It was a rebarbative stance. It sent the same message to the people of Serbia as the one Milosevic sent to the Albanians - or Hitler to the Jews, since everyone seems to have been so fond of Second World War analogies during this conflict. It was this: you are all the same, you are all vicious, you are all guilty, you must all be punished.

This, of course, was not the vindictive message of Western governments. They should now underscore that fact by galvanising their officials to make the cash flow as readily for relief as it did for munitions. The cost of the UNHCR operation is a measly $10m a week. No million-dollar technology is needed - just tents, blankets, mattresses, plywood, window frames, nails and tools so the refugees can begin repairing at least part of their homes to provide shelter before the harsh Balkan winter begins. If we could afford the war, we can afford the peace.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher, full time supply role, Thanet Academy

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The School Randstad are proud to...

English Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

ICT Teacher, full time supply role, Isle of Sheppey

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job: Our client school is lo...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week