WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Tuesday defended its response to the security and humanitarian crises in Congo, rejecting criticism from Congress and human rights groups that the U.S. has failed to take decisive action.
Johnnie Carson, the assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said the United States has worked closely with other countries to try to end the hostilities, with officials from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice pursuing a comprehensive response.
Carson described the situation in Congo as the most volatile in Africa, with an estimated 5 million people killed since a second regional war began in 1997. Despite a major peacekeeping operation, the M23 rebel group is operating in eastern Congo.
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that oversees Africa, called it an "ongoing reign of terror," and questioned whether administration's policy had failed.
"I reject that notion and reject that pretty soundly," Carson told the subcommittee. "At all levels of the U.S. government, we are working to advance greater peace and stability."