"The United States continues to be deeply concerned about
situation in the D.R.C., which has been marked by activities
threaten the peace, security and stability of the country," the
House said in a statement.
The announcement is a quiet signal
that the United States is trying to
stay engaged in a troubled region that
the administration is often
accused of forgetting. It comes a week after the
sanctions on the Allied Democratic Forces, a Ugandan
that operates in eastern Congo, and brings the United States
with United Nations sanctions that are already in place.
targeted by the sanctions could be subject to travel bans or
their assets frozen.
Both the United States and United Nations
measures are broad, and the
United States announcement noted that they would
be applied to those
who are "directly or indirectly" involved in the
recruitment of child
soldiers, sexual violence, obstruction of humanitarian
other provocative actions in Congo.
"It's hard to be
optimistic when you look at events in the Congo, but
there has been progress
in the last few months," said Richard Downie,
deputy director of
Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
The sanctions are a signal that the United States is trying to keep
momentum to reduce the violence in Congo, despite efforts among
commanders of some groups to bring their scattered fighters back
the fold. "It sends a strong message to the spoilers out there —
not going to stand for efforts to derail this process," Mr.
At the end of last year, the M23 rebel group, made up of
members of the Congolese Army, signed an agreement to stop
In June, members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation
Rwanda, another militia operating in eastern Congo, also began
disarm. Still, many of the fighters from these groups and
continue to be active.
Last week, the United Nations Security
Council and the United States
Treasury Department singled out the Allied
Democratic Forces for
attacks carried out against civilians in Congo in 2013,
many people from their homes. "The A.D.F. was also responsible
brutal attacks on women and children in several villages,
acts of beheading, mutilation and rape," the Treasury's statement
in announcing those sanctions.
The sanctions announcement also
comes after several high-profile
visits by United States officials in recent
months. On Saturday, in
the middle of a trip through several African
countries, Jill Biden,
the wife of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.,
traveled to Kinshasa,
the Congolese capital, and Bukavu, in eastern Congo.
Dr. Biden met
with victims of sexual violence at a hospital in
In May, Secretary of State John Kerry visited Congo and
President Joseph Kabila to take action against the Allied
Forces, but noted that military force would not be
"Lasting peace will not grow out of the barrel of a gun," Mr.
said at the time. "It will come from restoring state authority
"It will also come from demobilizing the
combatants and returning them
to civilian life," he added.
President Obama and his administration will have another
chance to reinforce
concerns about violence in Congo when Mr. Kabila
visits Washington as part of
the United States-Africa Leaders Summit.