Washington — The U.S. Department of the Treasury has designated two militant groups fomenting violence and instability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The action against Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) and the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) was taken under Executive Order 13413, which targets people contributing to the DRC conflict.
M23 and the FDLR, operating in eastern DRC, have committed serious crimes involving the targeting of children, Treasury said in a January 3 press release.
The crimes include recruitment as well as killing, maiming and sexual violence. M23 is also being designated for receiving arms and materiel related to military activities that have contributed directly to the conflict.
Under the designations, U.S. persons are prohibited from providing support to M23 and the FDLR, and any of their assets within U.S. jurisdiction must be frozen.
A credible body of evidence demonstrates support for M23 from the Rwandan government, including significant military and logistical support as well as operational and political guidance, Treasury said.
The United States has repeatedly called for a permanent end to all support for M23 and the FDLR as well as other armed groups operating in the DRC.
"The United States is committed to working with the international community to end the violence perpetrated against children in the DRC and exposing those responsible for these atrocities," said David S. Cohen, under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence. "We also urge Rwanda to halt its assistance to M23 and prevent any and all forms of support to Congolese armed groups."
M23 has recently taken control of large parts of eastern DRC. It is made up of forced recruits and rebels who mutinied from the DRC armed forces. The FDLR is led by Rwandan Hutus who were involved in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Top commanders of both groups, M23's Bosco Ntaganda and the FDLR's Sylvestre Mudacumura, are wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Both groups have been actively recruiting and using children in armed conflict, Treasury said. They have been responsible for campaigns of horrific violence against civilians, and they have used their resources to undermine peace efforts in the region.
On December 31, 2012, the United Nations Security Council's DRC Sanctions Committee, with the support of the United States, added M23 and the FDLR to its consolidated travel ban and asset-freeze list.
The United States and the Security Council previously designated several leaders of M23 and the FDLR for their roles in the conflict.