The author wrote this article after having worked for six months as a humanitarian worker in the war-torn region of Darfur, Sudan. At present the international community is debating a possible UN intervention in Sudan. Humanitarian intervention itself, although valid in complex emergencies, has serious side effects and can even leave the community fully dependent on international aid. The article promotes ‘appropriate’ intervention with a focus on individual communities. Besides assisting the affected individuals, communities must be supported in claiming their right to health as part of a larger human rights approach, holding the duty bearers accountable for the violated and neglected health determinants.