As we noted previously in this blog, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official, John Holmes, recently announced that four of the international aid organizations expelled from Sudan in March would be allowed to resume operations in Darfur. This move has long been afoot, and the deal itself is distinctly underwhelming. Several concerns: First, the international community has essentially played along with Khartoum’s charade by agreeing to ‘rehat’ the four agencies under new names and new logos – rather than stick by the simple moral proposition that the people of Darfur have the right to unfettered humanitarian relief. Second, it seems abundantly clear that Khartoum has yet again learned the lesson that there is no real cost for turning the tap of lifesaving aid on and off at will. These four aid agencies will continue to face numerous paperwork and bureaucratic hassles as Khartoum tries to slow down their work. Third, the Sudanese government does not seem to have any concrete plan to return the millions of dollars in equipment and vehicles it looted from aid organizations. Lastly, nine aid groups have not been allowed to return, and the people of Darfur will remain painfully vulnerable.
Yet again, it looks like the international community is taking the bait and engaging Khartoum on Khartoum’s terms around a crisis manufactured to take attention away from the war crimes arrest warrant issued against President Bashir.