University Twente’s report on flight MH17 crisis management goes public

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The Dutch Government requested the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) part of the Dutch Ministry for Security and Justice to evaluate the handling by Dutch authorities of the MH17 crisis.

The Dutch Twente University did the actual investigation. At December 16 they presented their report. The report is downloadable via the website of WODC (in Dutch).

The text below is taken from the University of Twente website.

The evaluation of the Dutch government’s handling of the crisis surrounding the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has now been made public. The report was sent to the Dutch parliament by the Minister of Security and Justice. “After a difficult start, the Netherlands’ National Crisis Centre steadily got to grips with events as they unfolded,” explains René Torenvlied, Professor of Public Management at the University of Twente’s Department of Public Administration, who led the evaluation. “The families of the Dutch victims praised the extensive support they received from the family liaison officers of the national police. In the Netherlands, the public is generally satisfied with the information provided by the government.”

On 17 July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over Eastern Ukraine. Most of the 298 people who lost their lives in the disaster were Dutch nationals. The University of Twente’s research team was charged with the task of evaluating the Dutch government’s management of the MH17 crisis. The report, commissioned by theResearch and Documentation Centre of the Security and Justice Ministry, examined this highly complex national tragedy in three studies. The first of these focused on the performance of the national crisis response organization, also with regard to the international legal implications of the disaster, which took place within the context of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. The researchers found that the initial Dutch response to the crisis was needlessly complicated by a lack of collaboration between the national crisis response organization and the various organizations that played an active part in the early stages. Other aspects of crisis management went smoothly and efficiently, such as international diplomacy, crisis communication and the organization of the national day of mourning. After the first few days, collaboration improved significantly, enabling the various organizations to coordinate their contributions more effectively. The missions to Ukraine were able to act with autonomy and served the main objectives set by the Dutch cabinet.

The second study brought the experience of the victims’ families into the evaluation, examining how they perceived the communication and care provided by the Dutch government and other organizations. The families were unhappy with the action taken by the government in the days immediately after the crash. This view improved after the national day of mourning; from that point on they were generally satisfied with the information and care made available. Some incidents had a great impact on the families and, in this light, they particularly valued the extensive support they received from the family liaison officers of the Dutch national police.

The third study looked at the information provided by the government to parliament, the media and society at large. After October 2014, Dutch parliamentarians and the media became less positive about the way in which they were kept abreast of developments. On the whole, the general public take a positive view of the information they received. Only around 15 percent of Dutch citizens say they are dissatisfied with how the crisis was managed.

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