Article from ROAPE Volume 33 Number 109
Politics/History/Problems of Humanitarian Assistance in Sudan
It is increasingly widely recognised that humanitarian assistance is broadly understood in two distinct ways: one is to see it as a part of foreign policy, which is the customary position of donating states; the other is to see it as independent of governments and a matter of relieving suffering without distinction and is embodied in the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross/Red Crescent family. The present authors argue that any intervention is necessarily a political event and they support this contention with an examination of assistance in Sudan in general and Darfur in particular. In describing the way in which donating states concentrated on the settlement between Khartoum and south Sudan to the detriment of intervention in Darfur in time to forestall massive human slaughter, the authors are pointing to political failure. They also maintain that the consequence of not recognising and examining the political nature of humanitarian assistance is to reduce people affected by emergencies of all kinds to the status of victim, which deprives them of the ability to be the principal agents of their own recovery.