Lord Ashdown to review UK's humanitarian aid response

An aid worker The number of people expected to be affected by natural disasters is set to rise

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Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown is to carry out a review of the UK government's response to disasters such as the Haiti earthquake.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said it would ensure the UK was at the forefront of efforts.

It will also look at how international efforts could be better co-ordinated, to make the most of public generosity.

The number of people affected by disasters is predicted to rise from 250 million a year to 375 million by 2015.

Mr Mitchell said: "I want us to be the model for other countries. The taskforce will be pushing for much-needed improvements in how international operations are managed.

"The UK public have repeatedly shown enormous generosity to those in need. It is vital that the entire international system is ready to meet the challenges of future disasters."

'Future catastrophes'

Lord Ashdown said: "The emergency response taskforce will ask searching questions of the UK and international response to ensure we are fully prepared and equipped, as well as providing value for money.

"As the number of natural disasters is set to increase dramatically, the emergency response taskforce will make sure the government is well prepared for future catastrophes."

The review will look at ways to ensure value for money and impact on the ground, and how Department for International Development (DFID) experts could help improve the international system.

It will examine co-ordination with the UN, humanitarian organisations and the private sector to ensure the UK is helping to make efforts more efficient, effective and well-coordinated.

How aid is delivered will be reviewed to ensure the right material and equipment is in the right place at the right time. The government has delivered 860 tonnes of non-food aid from its stocks in the UK and Dubai in the past six months.

It will also investigate how DFID should co-ordinate with other government departments, and ensure the use of new technologies is maximised.

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