US sanctions six for alleged role in Congo's eastern conflict

KINSHASA (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on six Congolese and Rwandan members of the armed forces or militias over their alleged part in fuelling the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said the people included one Congolese and one Rwandan senior officer, and four senior members of rebel armed groups that have been destabilising Congo's eastern borderlands for decades.

The Rwandan-backed March 23 Movement (M23) seized parts of Congo's North Kivu province in November 2021, escalating a fight with Congolese troops and other militias that has displaced thousands of civilians.

"Today's sanctions reflect the United States' commitment to advancing efforts to resolve the crisis and address the dire humanitarian situation," Brian Nelson, the treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.

"All sides in the conflict are responsible for serious human rights abuses including, but not limited to, intentional targeting of civilian populations through sexual violence."

The fighting and recurrent natural disasters have helped fuel a humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo. Around 5.5 million are displaced in North Kivu and neighbouring provinces, according to U.N. figures.

The Congolese army did not immediately respond to a request for comment. M23 could not be reached for comment on the sanctions against its members, nor could the Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), another militia whose member was sanctioned.

(Reporting by Ange Kasongo; Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Sandra Maler)