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United Nations worker, Mennonite school grad, kidnapped in the DRC

3.13. 2017 Written By: Hannah Heinzekehr, The Mennonite 12 Times read

Michael Sharp, a United Nations peace worker, was among a group of six people kidnapped by unknown assailants in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday March 12, according to Al Jazeera. Sharp is a 2001 graduate of Bethany Christian Schools in Goshen, Indiana, and a 2005 graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The other UN worker taken was Zaida Catalan from Sweden. In addition, the report states that four Congolese nationals, three motorcycle drivers and one interpreter were also kidnapped. The four nationals were not named in the report. The group was captured near the village of Ngombe.

According to Al Jazeera, Sharp and Catalan were part of a UN panel of experts that was investigating conflicts that have been ongoing in the DRC since the mid-1990s, when civil war began in the country. The report noted that the Kasai region has seen fighting and rebellion since September 2016 after government forces killed Kamwina Nsapu in August. Nsapu was a tribal chief and militia leader who had resisted President Joseph Kabila.

Congolese and UN officials stated that search efforts to locate kidnapped individuals were underway.

According to his LinkedIn page, Sharp has been serving as a UN expert on the DNC since April 2015. In a 2015 story for NPR, Sharp discussed his work alongside the Congolese Protestant Council of Churches trying to persuade rebel fighters to lay down arms. At that time, Sharp said the program had convinced some 1,600 fighters to give up arms.

Prior to that, Sharp worked with Mennonite Central Committee as the Eastern Congo Coordinator. Read an article about the work Sharp was engaged with at MCC.

Calls for prayer for Sharp and his family, as well as the five others who were kidnapped, are circulating widely across the country.

Featured Photo: Michael Sharp. MCC Photo.