Stepped-up fighting in an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has aggravated an already serious humanitarian disaster in the region, displacing tens of thousands of people and disrupting the delivery of badly needed food aid. A peace deal that once seemed at hand now appears at risk, and the United States urges all parties to step back from armed confrontation over their differences and return to political dialogue.
DRC military leaders and officials with the National Congress for the Defense of the People led by General Laurent Nkunda have traded charges over who first launched the attacks, which have roiled the already unstable North Kivu province. Daily cease-fire violations escalated into heavy fighting, which United Nations peacekeepers have been unable to contain. Hundreds have been killed, feeding protests by residents of Goma, the provincial capital.
The intensified clashes are an unfortunate step backwards in the peace process. They have also detracted from efforts to deal with another rebel group using the area as a sanctuary, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, which is key to the stability of the wider region.
The U.S. calls on all parties in the region to fulfill their commitments to the agreements that have been made and cease hostilities immediately.