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We have said it before: these are dangerous times.

For Red Cross and Red Crescent staff and volunteers, it is becoming more difficult to be seen as impartial and independent and work within a secure environment. This situation is referred to as the shrinking of humanitarian space — that neutral and independent ground where humanitarians can assist vulnerable people in times of conflict and disaster.

What are the latest threats to humanitarian action and how should we respond to them? The cover story looks at this problem, and highlights, as one example, the efforts of the ICRC and the
Philippine National Red Cross to assist the vulnerable in an increasingly insecure environment.

There is no doubt that humanitarian agencies are working on identifying ways to respond to this worrisome development, and ensure that all parties to a conflict respect the independence and impartiality of humanitarian action. But the process is in its early stages.

Jean-François Berger, ICRC editor

Jean Milligan, International Federation editor

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