After two weeks of searching, investigators finally found the remains of missing UN officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The UN found the bodies of two of their investigators, as well as a Congolese interpreter, in the Kasai-Central province. The workers went missing on March 12 and include Michael Sharp from the U.S., Zaida Catalan from Sweden, and Congo-native Betu Tshintela. However, there are still three people who went missing that day — driver Isaac Kabuayi and two motorcycle drivers.
The deceased UN workers were in DRC researching large-scale violence and alleged human rights issues. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres explained that the Congo’s government will assist the UN in determining what went wrong.
“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,” he said. “In case of criminal acts, the United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done.”
Whoever killed the three workers and is likely responsible for the missing of the entire group, beheaded Catalan. This is the first time the UN has reported workers going missing in DRC. Currently, there are roughly 19,000 UN troops in the Congo, attempting to negotiate peace between the parties.
Sharp and Catalan were researching the area to further understand decades of political instability and violence. The Kasai province, in which the two were traveling, has experienced increased tensions, as the Kamwina Nsapu militia continues fighting the government. The tensions tightened after the government killed the group’s leader, Kamwina Nsapu, last August.
Accordingly, the rebellion group has killed more than 400 and displaced more than 200,000 people since last fall. The group, consisting of many kidnapped child soldiers, has conducted numerous kidnappings and killing sprees.
Despite the rebel group’s terror in the country, the UN also places blame on the country’s government. DRC militias have killed dozens of civilians while attempted to kill members of the group. Just within five days in February, militia officials killed at least 40 women in an attempt to kill Kamwina soldiers. The government’s militia regularly uses machine guns, while the rebel fighters arm themselves with machetes and spears.