USA Condemns Rwanda’s Missile Deployment and Backing of M23 in DRC Crisis

President, Félix Tshisekedi met with Molly Phee, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, in Addis Ababa on February 18, 2024

Kinshasa, February 18, 2024- The United States has expressed strong condemnation of the violence exacerbated by the Rwanda-backed M23 armed group, emphasizing the group’s incursions into towns such as Sake, which have heightened risks to the civilian population. This situation has led to increased displacements, human rights abuses, and threats to both local and international peacekeeping efforts.

On February 17, 2024, Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department, issued a press statement calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities by M23 and urging Rwanda to withdraw its support for the group. The United States criticized Rwanda’s involvement, particularly the deployment of Rwanda Defense Force personnel and surface-to-air missile systems in the DRC, which pose a significant threat to civilians and peacekeeping operations in the region.

In addition to condemning the actions of the M23 group and Rwanda’s support, the United States has called for all states to respect sovereignty and territorial integrity, emphasizing the need to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses in the conflict. The U.S. has also encouraged the DRC government to support confidence-building measures, including ceasing cooperation with other armed groups like the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which also pose risks to the civilian population.

Efforts to address the crisis extend beyond condemnations. The Congolese President, Félix Tshisekedi, met with Molly Phee, the U.S. Under Secretary of State for African Affairs, in Addis Ababa on February 18, 2024. This meeting underscored the United States’ commitment to supporting the DRC in addressing the security challenges in its eastern regions. Both parties discussed the ongoing insecurity and the impact of both local and foreign armed groups on the area’s stability. Statements from the DRC’s presidency and spokespersons have highlighted the assurances of support from the United States in tackling the security crisis, reflecting a shared concern for the well-being of the Congolese people and the pursuit of lasting peace in the region.