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Independent Evaluation of expenditure of DEC Kosovo appeals funds

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Originally published


Phases I and II, April 1999 - January 2000

Volume I

Peter Wiles
Mark Bradbury
Margie Buchanan-Smith
Steve Collins
John Cosgrave
Alistair Hallam
Manuela Mece
Nicola Norman
Ana Prodanovic
Jane Shackman
Fiona Watson

Overseas Development Institute
In association with
Valid International

August 2000


Many people have made this evaluation possible. The ODI team wishes to acknowledge the support given to the team by DEC member agency staff, both in the UK and in the Balkans. The staff of the Oxfam offices in Belgrade, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje and Tirana, CARE International in Pristina and World Vision in Montenegro deserve special mentions, particularly Ollga Cipa, Sonia Cakovic, Merita Mehman, Liz Sime, Tatjana Masic, Samira Krehic and Natasha Kurashova for their tremendous logistical support to the team. Thanks also to Mariola Xhunga and Besiana Belaj for their interpreting work in Albania and Kosovo respectively.

In the UK, Heather Hughes of Oxfam and Jamie McCaul and Kate Robertson of the DEC Secretariat provided continual support.

The team also wishes to thank all those many people in other agencies and organisations who submitted to our questioning and those directly affected by the crisis who were prepared to talk about their experiences.

Debora Kleyn performed great works in establishing the huge document database and keeping up a steady flow of analysis and information. Joanne Aitken worked long hours on the formatting and production of the report.

Finally, our great thanks to Nicola Norman for her enormous contribution to making this evaluation possible, for her never-failing support to the team and her calm and unflagging attention to detail.

Overall Conclusions and Findings

This independent evaluation of expenditure of DEC Kosovo appeal funds covers the period between April 1999 and January 2000. The report describes the operational and policy issues, complexities and challenges faced by the 12 DEC member agencies in responding to the Kosovo emergency. The DEC agencies found themselves in the unique situation of working in a crisis in which the UK government was a leading player in the military conflict and also, as with other NATO governments, a major donor to and participant in the humanitarian response. For the agencies, this raised difficult issues of impartiality and neutrality.

The Kosovo emergency was regional in nature and comprised three distinct but interlinked phases: the rapid flight of Kosovo Albanian refugees into neighbouring countries, the almost equally rapid return of the majority of those refugees to Kosovo and the subsequent flight of Kosovo Serbs and Roma from Kosovo, mainly into Serbia and Bosnia. The international humanitarian response met most of the basic needs of affected populations in terms of food, shelter and water supplies, in spite of the speed and scale of these population movements, the threat of a hard Balkan winter and, in some cases, the difficulties of access. There were very low rates of mortality and an absence of starvation and epidemics.

The evaluation notes that many factors contributed to this outcome, of which humanitarian aid may not have been the most important. However, international assistance did improve the conditions of the affected populations and the DEC agencies undoubtedly made a positive contribution.

In particular:

  • The assistance given by the DEC agencies was broadly relevant and appropriate to people’s needs.
  • The evaluation found many examples of good practice by the DEC agencies.
  • In a context of sometimes poor coordination by international agencies, the DEC agencies mostly supported efforts to coordinate assistance and avoid duplication.
  • The evaluation expresses some concerns about programme quality, particularly in areas such as assessment, monitoring and evaluation and gender analysis.
  • The evaluation found that the DEC agencies have not yet all incorporated internationally agreed guidelines and standards on humanitarian assistance into their operations.

Given the highly politicised and militarised context in which the agencies worked, the evaluation found that:
  • DEC agencies avoided excessive alignment with NATO and governmental donors in their responses, but rarely had procedures to guide field staff in their relations with the military.
  • DEC agencies resisted the over-concentration of assistance on refugees in the camps in Albania and Macedonia by also responding to the needs of refugees in host families and host families themselves.
  • The major proportion of DEC funds was spent in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. However an important strength of the DEC money was its availability for use throughout the region and some DEC agencies were able to increase their response to growing needs in Serbia after the NATO bombing ended.
  • The evaluation notes that the Kosovo emergency raised some important policy issues for the DEC agencies related to preserving independence, neutrality and impartiality in complex political emergencies and lessons need to be learnt from these experiences.
  • Also noted was the lack of public advocacy by individual DEC member agencies on some key humanitarian issues, notably the plight of the one million people who remained in Kosovo during the NATO bombing campaign and the continued use of cluster bombs by the British government.
  • The Kosovo crisis highlights how issues of protection can be just as important as the provision of material relief assistance in war-induced emergencies. DEC agencies need to pay more attention to this.

The scale of this most successful of DEC appeals challenged both the agencies and the DEC secretariat and the evaluation report makes recommendations about the strengthening of the DEC mechanism in future appeals.

Executive Summary


On 24 March 1999, NATO forces launched air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) after the Belgrade government refused to accept the terms of the Rambouillet peace agreement on the governance of the province of Kosovo. The war between NATO and FRY, following years of political repression, violence and forced displacement in Kosovo, precipitated a major humanitarian emergency, involving the largest and fastest movement of people in Europe since World War II. The international response that was launched mobilised political, military and humanitarian assets on an unprecedented scale.

The Disasters Emergency Committee in the UK (DEC) launched its Kosovo appeal on 6 April 1999. This appeal, the largest in the DEC’s history, raised over £50 million. Twelve DEC member agencies participated: the British Red Cross Society (BRCS), CAFOD, CARE International UK, Children’s Aid Direct (CAD), Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged/HelpAge International (HAI), Merlin, Oxfam GB, Save the Children (SC), Tearfund and World Vision UK.

The Evaluation

The DEC commissioned this independent evaluation of Phases I and II of expenditure of the appeal funds. It covers the period between 6 April 1999 and 31 January 2000, and expenditure of £37 million. The evaluation has three related but distinct purposes: accountability to fundraising partners and the British public; promoting learning among DEC agencies; and monitoring of agencies’ compliance to DEC rules and guidelines.

The evaluation took place between January and June 2000 with the evaluation team visiting Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. Varying amounts of DEC funds were spent in each country or province. Over 400 interviews were conducted with DEC and other humanitarian agencies, relevant government departments and war-affected populations and beneficiaries. A series of meetings and workshops with DEC agencies in the UK and in the region were held. A database containing over 2,500 documents was compiled and reviewed.

The large scope of the evaluation, the limited time the team was able to devote to Bosnia, Montenegro and Serbia, and the fact that the refugee emergency (of March to June 1999) was long past, were factors limiting the depth of investigation. The evaluation recognises that the agencies’ responses in a particular sector or place cannot be measured by DEC expenditure alone.

In comparison to other evaluations of the Kosovo emergency, this evaluation offers an INGO focus, multi-agency coverage, review of a longer time frame and broad geographical and sectoral scope.

The Context of the Kosovo Emergency

The Kosovo emergency occurred at the end of a decade of humanitarian crises in the Balkans, arising from the wars of secession in the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) and the impact of post-Cold War political, economic and social transformations in eastern Europe.

In 1989, the Serbian Parliament revoked the SFRY Constitution of 1974, thus reducing Kosovo’s autonomy and imposing control from Belgrade. This provoked a policy of non-violent resistance from Kosovo Albanians. They set up a parallel government in 1992 including education and health systems. When Kosovo’s status was marginalised further in the Dayton peace negotiations in November 1995, peaceful resistance turned into armed struggle in 1996 with the appearance of the Kosovo Liberation Army.

By 1998 the flow of asylum seekers from Kosovo into the rest of Europe and the perceived threat to regional security provoked an international response. In September 1998, agreement was secured to establish the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), whose purpose was to monitor and mitigate violations of human rights while a political process was renewed. NATO first threatened air strikes in October 1998 in support of US diplomatic efforts to secure Belgrade’s compliance with UN Security Council resolution 1199.

In early 1999 a massacre of civilians in Racak, deteriorating security and a contraction of humanitarian access provoked renewed threats of NATO air strikes. Dialogue between FRY and the Kosovo Albanian leadership was resumed in February at Rambouillet. However, when Yugoslav delegates refused to sign the agreement, the talks collapsed. NATO carried out its threat and began air strikes against FRY. Yugoslavia’s refusal to sign was partly due to the controversial Military Annex of the Rambouillet agreement which included conditions for the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo and the presence of a NATO-led peace implementation force with substantial autonomy of movement throughout FRY.

NATO’s military campaign, known as Operation Allied Force, lasted for 78 days. It was suspended on 10 June 1999 when the Yugoslav army and paramilitary units began withdrawing from Kosovo, following Belgrade’s acceptance of various ‘principles’ to resolve the crisis, including a ‘substantial NATO participation’ in an international security force in Kosovo ‘under UN auspices’. Once the air strikes stopped, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1244 authorising the establishment of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). The NATO peace implementation force - Kosovo Force (KFOR) - entered Kosovo on 12 June. The legality of NATO’s action against FRY has been subject to intense debate.

The Humanitarian Emergency

Although NATO air strikes were intended to end the violence in Kosovo, the immediate effect was the opposite. FRY security forces expelled Kosovo Albanians en masse from the province. The extent to which air strikes precipitated mass displacement or whether ‘ethnic cleansing’ was pre-planned is disputed. At the start of NATO’s military campaign, UNHCR estimated there were up to 260,000 persons internally displaced (IDPs) inside Kosovo. Following the commencement of the air bombardment over 800,000 Kosovo Albanians sought refuge in neighbouring countries. This refugee crisis and the return of these refugees to Kosovo after June became the focus of the international humanitarian response, and of this evaluation. Since NATO entered Kosovo in June 1999, more than 200,000 people - mainly Serbs, Krajina Serbs and Roma - have left the province, most fleeing to Serbia and Montenegro. Meanwhile, several thousand Albanians from southern Serbia have sought refuge in Kosovo and Macedonia.

The countries that bore the brunt of the Kosovo crisis are among the poorest in Europe. The impact of the crisis and the capacity and readiness of these countries to assist varied, depending upon their political stance, their ethnic composition, the presence of refugees from other conflicts and the prevailing socio-economic situation.

Albania provided refuge for the largest number of refugees - over 470,000 - having recognised Kosovo as an independent entity in 1991 and supported the liberation struggle. Macedonia, which took in the second-largest number of Kosovo Albanian refugees, was a reluctant host. Concerned at the impact that the Kosovo Albanian refugees would have on the country’s ethnic balance, and on trade and diplomatic relations with Serbia, the government initially closed its border with Kosovo, leaving 40,000 refugees stranded without shelter for a week. Eventually it was persuaded by NATO governments to open the borders. Some 80,000 refugees were transferred to 28 other countries via the Humanitarian Evacuation Programme, and a smaller number by the Regional Transfer Programme, supported by NATO governments. This ‘burden sharing’ was controversial, potentially undermining the principle of first asylum, but was important in persuading Macedonia to open its border with Kosovo.

During the bombing some 100,000 people sought refuge in Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia, fleeing from Kosovo and from the bombing in other parts of FRY. Over one million people remained in Kosovo during the war. Of these it is estimated that half were displaced.

Impact of the War

Kosovo was FRY's poorest province, with a GDP per capita of less than US$400 in 1995 and unemployment of over 35 per cent. The province was heavily indebted. In addition to mass displacement, the war between NATO and FRY compounded the physical and economic damage that Kosovo had already suffered in the violence since 1989. An estimated 120,000 houses were damaged, 50,000 beyond repair, and over 90 per cent of schools and health facilities were damaged or destroyed.

The suffering of Kosovo Albanian refugees and displaced was the most visible consequence of the war, but the crisis has had broader regional impacts. Albania hosted a refugee population that was equivalent to 14 per cent of its own population, threatening to upset the progress that had been made in stabilising its economy since the 1997 civil disturbances. In Macedonia, Bosnia, Bulgaria and Romania, disruptions in trade and transport, foreign investment and tourism have all had an impact on balance of payments and structural reforms. Macedonia claims the crisis has cost them US$1.5 billion in lost trade and commerce.

FRY was already in a state of deep economic shock since the break-up of SFRY. The war inflicted further economic damage and humanitarian stress: inflation is over 100 per cent, official unemployment is at 40 per cent, and there are an estimated 500,000 ‘social cases’. Bomb damage to infrastructure and industry caused pollution, unemployment and disrupted trade. Sanctions have inflicted a severe energy crisis affecting 75 per cent of households. Tensions between Montenegro and Serbia have increased since the war, encouraged by the West through the lifting of sanctions on Montenegro, and the imposition of a trade blockade on Montenegro by Serbia in March 2000.

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