Smith: Ongoing Goma Conference Vital to Peace and Increased Human Rights in Congo
Comments Following Recent Trip to DRC Earlier This Month
U.S. Rep Chris Smith (R-NJ) who traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) earlier this month ahead of the Goma Peace Conference today made the following statement regarding the continued peace talks which convened on January 7th.
"It is my hope that the ongoing talks between warring factions in the eastern region of the DRC concludes with a long-lasting, sustainable agreement that will finally bring peace to all the Congolese people. As I recently traveled throughout the Congo, I met with and listened to the concerns of the Congolese people who so desperately want peace and a chance for democracy to succeed.
"The arrival of President Joseph Kabila and new UN mission chief Alan Doss at the talks will hopefully help move the conference toward a peaceful resolution. The DRC must not be allowed to fall back into the devastating wars that took the lives of more than four million people over the decade leading up to the 2006 parliamentary elections.
"The Congolese people deserve no less than a working democracy dedicated to peace and a rule of law that strives to deliver citizen protection, accountable government and respect for human rights. The ongoing conflict in the eastern region severely threatens the newly-elected government and has taken the lives and homes of far too many. The terrible human rights atrocities that have occurred during this conflict including human trafficking, sexual exploitation of women and young girls and the use of child soldiers must not be allowed to continue. For the sake of the Congolese people and in the name of peace and democracy, this fighting must end," said Smith.
Smith, the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, traveled to the DRC earlier this month from January 2-5 as part of a four-day human rights mission to the region to focus on combating human trafficking, ending the use of child soldiers and sexual violence while at the same time underscoring US commitment to the critical peace negotiations.
"The DRC and the success of its young democracy is a top priority within US foreign policy. The US is a willing international partner and we will continue to work with the new government leadership as it seeks a nation-wide peace and transparent governance for the Congolese people. The US has both a humanitarian and a national security interest in helping them attain stability and security in this critical region of Africa," said Smith.