This issue of Humanitarian Exchange features articles on the humanitarian response in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The persisting humanitarian crisis in the DRC continues to exact its toll on the civilian population. Over a million Congolese are still displaced due to continuing violence in the east, healthcare across much of the country is virtually non-existent, infrastructure and other basic services are lacking, and insecurity and frequent attacks on civilians persist. The most recent mortality survey by IRC estimates that 5.4m excess deaths have occurred between August 1998 and April 2007, 2.1m of them since the formal end of the war in 2002. Despite some progress on security, political and humanitarian indicators, and substantial increases in funding in recent years, the challenges facing aid organisations and communities remain vast. Articles in this feature examine the tools in place to respond to these challenges, in the form of rapid response mechanisms to emerging crises, communitybased recovery strategies and best practice in protection programming.
Articles in the policy and practice section examine key issues and lessons learned for humanitarian practitioners. In this issue we focus on the relationship between advocacy and action, civil–military relations, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and the links between conflict and environmental degradation in Darfur. Other articles explore issues around surge capacity within operational agencies, the virtues and values of accountability to affected communities and the impact of humanitarian reforms from a field perspective.