M23 lurks again in DRC!
As clashes continue between Democratic Republic of Congo’s army and fighters from the M23 rebel group close to the eastern Congo, the United States of America today called for restraint to prevent escalation of the conflict which puts civilians at risk.
Reports say M23 resorting to violence has resulted in civilian casualties, attacks on the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), and significant population displacements.
In her statement by US Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, the US govenrment is alarmed by the escalating fighting between the M23 armed group and the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in eastern Congo.
“We reiterate our call for Rwanda to cease any and all support to the M23 and to respect DRC’s territorial integrity.” – Ms. Harf
The US also calls on the DRC to take all prudent steps to protect civilians and to take precautions that FARDC shells do not inadvertently land in Rwandan territory.
In addition, the US urges MONUSCO and the Expanded Joint Verification Mechanism to promptly and thoroughly investigate charges of cross-border shelling.
“We urge all parties to facilitate access for humanitarian organizations assisting populations in need.” – Ms. Harf
The US calls on the M23 to immediately end the hostilities, lay down their arms, and disband, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions.
US condemns the violence perpetrated by M23
Ms. Harf also expresses condemnation by the actions of the M23, which have resulted in civilian casualties, attacks on the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), and significant population displacements.
The US is also concerned by reports of shelling across the Rwandan border, including credible UN reports that the M23 has fired into Rwandan territory.
In addition, the US is deeply concerned about evidence of increasing ethnic tensions in Goma and call on all parties to avoid any actions that could exacerbate such tensions.
US on a mission to bring sustainable peace to DRC
Recognizing that the security and humanitarian situation in the D.R.C. is the most volatile and violent in Africa, the United States of America has reiterated its commitment to helping the D.R.C. and its neighbors end the cycle of violence and instability.
An estimated five million people have lost their lives since 1998, and millions more have been uprooted and displaced due to cycle of violence in DRC.
North and South Kivu provinces in particular have faced repeated cycles of conflict, atrocities, and displacement, with the current crisis simply being the latest iteration.
The highest levels of the U.S. Government are committed to helping the D.R.C. and the region achieve a sustainable peace.
In the UN Security Council, US has taken action to ensure that five of the most senior and most abusive M23 commanders are now under targeted sanctions, and it has placed those same individuals under U.S. sanctions, he added.
Talks between the D.R.C. Government and the M23 began on December 9 in Kampala, and are being mediated by Uganda as the chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, known as the ICGLR.
The US government continues to urge the Ugandan Government to ensure that supplies to the M23 do not originate in or transit through Ugandan territory.
As required by the FY 2012 Appropriations Act, Secretary Clinton suspended Foreign Military Financing, or FMF, to Rwanda in FY 2012 because of its support to the M23.
The Department continues to closely monitor reports of external support, and will continue to respond appropriately, including by reviewing our assistance, to deter this support if it should develops.
The US renewed call upon everyone involved in the conflict to maintain the current cease-fire, to permit humanitarian access, and to pursue a sustainable political resolution through honest and meaningful dialogue.
US has underlined that to reach a sustainable peace, the D.R.C. Government must accelerate its efforts towards comprehensive security sector reform.
The US will continue to work with the D.R.C. Government to professionalize its military, including continuing our training to army officers and support to the armed forces’ military justice capacities.
The US urges the international community, the Great Lakes region, and the Congolese people to demonstrate the resolve to achieve the peace and prosperity that we know lays ahead for the D.R.C.
US responds to humanitarian catastrophe in DRC
The humanitarian situation in the eastern Congo remains deplorable, as it has been for years, with more than two million Congolese currently displaced internally or to neighboring countries.
The United States provided more than $110 million in humanitarian assistance for Congolese refugees, internally displaced persons, and conflict-affected civilians in Fiscal Year 2012, including a $5 million supplemental contribution for the increased needs in the D.R.C., Uganda, and Rwanda as a result of displacements caused by the M23 rebellion.
At the UN, the US also has urged donors to respond to the UN’s consolidated appeal for the D.R.C.
There were an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as of July 2011, the vast majority of them in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. This included over 128,000 people newly displaced in the first quarter of 2011.
A peace agreement in 2003 formally brought years of war to a close, but fighting flared again in North Kivu that same year. An estimated 1.3 million IDPs remain in the DRC, while 350,000 Congolese have fled to other countries.