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Fighting Worsens Suffering In Eastern Congo

With IDP camps filling up since the rebellion in eastern Congo began in April, newly displaced people are sleeping in churches until they can find a place to settle, DRC, November 23, 2012. (G. Joselow/VOA)

We strongly condemn the M23’s expressed objective of overthrowing the sovereign, elected DRC Government.

Fighters from the Congolese rebel group M23 have taken the key eastern city of Goma, and most recently the town of Sake in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following days of clashes with government troops supported by the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUSCO.

Fighting Worsens Suffering In Eastern Congo
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Tens of thousands of residents have fled as a result of the fighting and mounting tensions in the region, and the ongoing violence has the potential to undermine stability in the broader Great Lakes region. The conflict has also strained relations between the DRC and Rwanda, which Congolese officials have claimed is backing the M23.

The United States is gravely alarmed by the rapid deterioration of the security situation in eastern DRC. We strongly condemn the M23’s expressed objective of overthrowing the sovereign, elected DRC Government and we strongly condemn these latest offenses, which are an affront to the DRC’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and are in violation of international law. We call on the M23 to immediately cease its hostilities and return all occupied territory to the rightful DRC authorities.

Resolving this crisis is critical to regional security and will require regional cooperation from the DRC’s neighbors. There can be no military solution to this crisis. Resolution must instead be reached through political dialogue based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and accountability for the M23 leadership responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Thus, we support the dialogue between Presidents Kabila, Kagame and Museveni now being conducted under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region. We also applaud the UN Security Council’s adoption of resolution 2076. It sends a clear signal that the Council intends to hold both the M23 and their external supporters accountable.

Like others in the international community, the United States is following the evolving situation closely, and we continue to support and stand by the Congolese Government and its people, particularly those in Goma, during this time of crisis. We are also in close contact with our regional and international partners, including the UN, the African Union, and the highest levels of government in the DRC, Rwanda, and Uganda.