The United States strongly supports the actions of MONUSCO and calls on the rebels to immediately end the hostilities.
Heavy fighting flared again this month between government troops and rebel forces near Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hostilities erupted August 20 and continued for five days before tapering off. Congolese troops were supported by an intervention brigade of MONUSCO, the United Nations force in the DRC.
The United States strongly supports the actions of MONUSCO and calls on the rebels to immediately end the hostilities, lay down their arms and disband, as called for in a U.N. Security Council resolution seeking to restore peace and stability in the region.
The United States is greatly alarmed by the escalating fighting and condemns rebel actions that have resulted in civilian casualties, attacks on the U.N. peacekeeping mission and thousands being driven from their homes. We are also concerned by reports of shelling across the Rwandan border.
We call on the DRC and Rwandan governments to exercise restraint and avoid actions that put civilians at risk. That includes putting an end to any and all support by Rwanda for the rebels and for all parties to facilitate access for humanitarian groups aiding populations in need.
The rebels, a group of Congolese military deserters calling themselves the “M23,” briefly took control of Goma last year and still control areas in North Kivu province adjacent to the Rwandan border. Reports from the U.N. Group of Experts and Human Rights Watch indicate the M23 has received support from Rwanda.
Though peace talks between the rebels and government have been ongoing since last December under the auspices of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and with the mediation of the Ugandan government, they have stalled repeatedly and have made little progress since March.
Any political settlement of the conflict must include accountability for the human rights atrocities committed by M23’s leaders and other armed groups. The U.S. Treasury Department has designated several M23 leaders under targeted sanctions that include an assets freeze and a travel ban. The United States stands ready to consider further sanctions against the leaders of the M23 and other armed groups, as well as those who support them.