New York City, New York – The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a prepared statement released late Tuesday evening sadly confirmed the identities of the two bodies found in a shallow grave to be that of humanitarian aid workers Michael Sharp and Zahida Katalan who went missing and feared kidnapped earlier this month in Kasai Central province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The U.N. Secretary-General, Guterres made it very clear that an inquiry into the cause of their deaths and asked the Congolese authorities to “conduct a full investigation into this incident.” He urged the local authorities to continue searching for the four Congolese nationals who are still missing. The Congolese government assured the United Nations that a full investigation will be conducted and that the search for the still missing local Congolese aid workers, Betu Tshintela, Issac Kabuayi, and the two other still unidentified persons is their utmost priority.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres full statement:
“I am deeply saddened to confirm that the remains discovered by peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on 27 March outside of the city of Kananga in the Congolese Kasaï-Central province are those of Michael Sharp (United States) and Zaida Catalan (Sweden), members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo missing since 12 March 2017. I convey my profound condolences to Michael’s and Zaida’s families, loved ones and colleagues.
Michael and Zaida lost their lives seeking to understand the causes of conflict and insecurity in the DRC in order to help bring peace to the country and its people. We will honor their memory by continuing to support the invaluable work of the Group of Experts and the whole UN family in the DRC.
It is our hope that the cause of their deaths will be determined following a more thorough examination. I trust that the Congolese authorities will conduct a full investigation into this incident. The United Nations will also conduct an inquiry. In case of criminal acts, the United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done.
I urge the Congolese authorities to continue the search for the four Congolese nationals who accompanied our colleagues. The United Nations will cooperate with the authorities in the continuing search.
New York, 28 March 2017″
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Sharp “He [Michael]selflessly put himself in harm’s way to try to make a difference in the lives of the Congolese people. His courage and desire to serve others is an example for us all.”Michaels father, John Sharp took to Facebook to confirm the loss of his son as well and eloquently conveyed he and his families reaction to news that no parent or loved one is truly ready to receive about their child:
Feature image courtesy of Al Jazeera