An American United Nations investigator, Michael Sharp, along with another Swedish UN investigator, were found dead and buried in a shallow grave this week in the Congo. Sharp and Zaida Catalan disappeared more than two weeks ago and the worst was feared. They were looking into violence and human rights violations by the Congolese army and local militia groups. Looks like they found what they were looking for with tragic results. Their interpreter and drivers are also missing and presumed dead. Their bodies were discovered Monday and they had to be identified by their dental records.
Sharp knew the work he was doing was very dangerous. He wasn’t afraid of death and it did come calling for him there. An American in the Congo would be a huge target. His family fully supported him. I can’t imagine what they are going through. This man was a peacemaker, but you can’t make peace with beasts intent on violence. It never ends well. Former U.S. ambassador to the Congo Jim Swan sent a message of sympathy to Sharp’s parents that spoke of how unique their son truly was. “After all the predatory foreigners who have passed through the Congo over the past few centuries, Michael was someone who genuinely cared, who wanted to understand and learn, and who sought to reach those most difficult to access — not only physically, but psychologically. It’s really sad and — for what it’s worth, unfair — that he was the one taken.” Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
From Western Journalism:
American Michael Sharp of Kansas, a United Nations investigator working in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been found dead along with a Swedish U.N. investigator, the U.N. confirmed Tuesday.
Sharp and Zaida Catalan had disappeared two weeks ago. Both were part of a U.N. Group of Experts investigating violence and human rights violations by the Congolese army and local militia groups. Their Congolese interpreter and drivers have also gone missing.
The bodies were found Monday, with their identities confirmed by dental records.
Sharp’s parents said their son knew he was in danger, but believed the work he was doing was worth the risk.
“We have heard from colleagues that he was respected by militia group leaders and militia members in ways we had no idea about,” his father, John, told station KAKE. “Somewhere, from his growing up, from family, from church, he caught a vision for peacemaking, conflict resolution without violence.”
His mother recalled the warning he once gave her.
“He sat down with me and said, ‘Mom, you know I don’t have a death wish. But I want you to know also that I’m not afraid to die,’” his mother, Michel said. “But he said, ‘You know I’ll be careful.’”
An unidentified militia group killed Michael and his associate. Congolese authorities are saying they will conduct a full investigation, but I doubt much will come of that. Congo’s police inspector general, Charles Bisengimana, said the bodies were found Monday between the cities of Tshimbulu and Kananga, the provincial capital.
“Michael was working on the front lines of what we try to do at the United Nations every day: find problems and fix them,” U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. “He selflessly put himself in harm’s way to try to make a difference in the lives of the Congolese people.” His father said his son was dedicated to doing humanitarian work in eastern Congo even before he joined the United Nations. May Michael rest in peace and justice be done in his name.