Britons Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty ‘relieved’ after kidnap ordeal ends in DR Congo

Two Britons freed in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being kidnapped during a visit to a national park have said they are “very relieved” that their ordeal is over.

The pair – named as Bethan Davies and Robert Jesty – were rescued on Sunday after being snatched in Virunga National Park on Friday.

In a statement issued on their behalf, they said: “We are very relieved that there has been a positive outcome to the kidnapping and are very grateful for the excellent support we have received. We do not plan to comment further.”

A female park ranger, 25-year-old Rachel Makisa Baraka, who was travelling with the pair was killed and their driver injured during the abduction.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said in a statement: “I am delighted to announce that two British nationals who were held hostage in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been released.

“I pay tribute to the DRC authorities and the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation for their tireless help during this terrible case.

“My thoughts are now with the family of Virunga Park ranger Rachel Makisa Baraka who was killed during the kidnapping, and with the injured driver and the released British nationals as they recover from this traumatic incident.”

The park’s spokeswoman refused to comment on how the situation was resolved and whether or not the kidnappers had been apprehended.

The park has seen rising violence in recent months as armed groups stage raids to steal resources, particularly charcoal.

Last month five young rangers and a driver were killed in a militia ambush, the park said.

It was the deadliest attack in recent years and took the total number of rangers killed to 175.

Virunga is a Unesco world heritage site, covering 3,000 square miles on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Founded in 1925, it is home to around a quarter of the world’s critically endangered mountain gorillas and other endangered species as well as lions, elephants, hippos and a host of rare bird species.

Last year, a fifth of the park’s southern sector was deforested owing to illegal charcoal production, the park said.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that it provided consular support to both Britons and their families throughout their ordeal.

The British ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo, John Murton, said: “The UK would like to thank the DRC authorities and MONUSCO (The United Nations peace keeping mission) for their assistance in resolving this kidnapping.

“I would like in particular to praise the courage and commitment shown by the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation and the Virunga Park authorities over the past three days.

“My deepest condolences are with the family, friends and colleagues of Rachel Makisa Baraka, the Virunga ranger killed during the kidnapping. I wish the driver injured during the incident a speedy recovery.

“The bravery and determination of all the staff of Virunga is vital for the conservation of animals in the park, and the protection of local communities.”

Park director Emmanuel de Merode said in a statement: “Ranger Baraka’s life was tragically cut short in service to Virunga National Park.

“She was one of the park’s 26 female rangers and was highly committed, showing true bravery in her work.

“We extend our sincerest condolences to her family, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this incident.”

Read more news of London on our site.

itv.com
BritonsBethanDavies RobertJesty
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
The cost of plans to transform the former Royal London Hospitalinto a town hall have ballooned by £15 million after the building was found to contain “phenomenal” amounts of asbestos.  Preliminary work on the new civic centre for Tower Hamlets in Whitechapel Road revealed “unprecedented” amounts of the dangerous material, according to mayor John Biggs.  The project aims to transform what was once the largest hospital in the country into offices for council...
Society
Newborn girls in Camden have the highest life expectancy out of any area in the country. Females from the north London borough are expected to live for 86.5 years, according to new figures released on Wednesday. Two other London boroughs – Kensington and Chelsea (86.2) and Westminster (86.0) – also made the top three of the list for female life expectancy. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it was "noticeable" how Camden was top after it had bee...
Society
Southwestern Ontario looms large in Canada's opioid drug crisis, a new national report suggests, with Brantford running the second-highest rate of hospitalization for opioid use in the country last year and London the sixth-highest. Southwestern Ontario looms large in Canada’s opioid drug crisis, a new national report suggests, with Brantford running the second-highest rate of hospitalization for opioid use in the country last year and London the sixth-hig...
Society
A tense debate over a supervised drug use site that garnered unanimous backing from city politicians Monday night saw neighbours pitted against one another in what one councillor called a disappointing exchange. A tense debate over a supervised drug use site that garnered unanimous backing from city politicians Monday night saw neighbours pitted against one another in what one councillor called a disappointing exchange. At issue was a zoning change that wo...
Society
Josh Kirkpatrick moved home, married his high school sweetheart in September and stepped away from the demanding sport to hit a personal reset button. Curtis Thorner performs squats under the guidance of Olympic bobsledder and trainer Josh Kirkpatrick at Total Package Hockey on Wednesday.  Josh Kirkpatrick will always own one of the best discovery stories in sports history. He was playing in a rec league slo-pitch game when he met a Bobsleigh Canada coach,...
Society
Temperatures are plummeting in Sweden, making life harder than ever for homeless people. Stockholm is trying to help by swapping commercial adverts with billboards that signpost nearby shelters. In Stockholm, winter has struck, and temperatures are dropping rapidly. Amid near-freezing conditions, a new emergency system is being displayed in the city’s digital billboards. Its purpose is to guide homeless people to the nearest shelter. Behind the initiative...
Crime
A young man has been knifed repeatedly in a horrific broad daylight attack outside a north London station. Police and paramedics were called to the scene in Kentish Townshortly after 3pm on Monday. They found a 20-year-old man suffering from stab injuries. He was rushed to hospital. Video footage posted on social media showed a police cordon in place on Prince of Wales Road, next to Kentish Town West station. Former Camden councillor Matt Sanders said on T...
Crime
A "jealous" husband who murdered his estranged wife after she rejected the offer of spending "one last" night with him has been jailed for 16 years. Martin Cavanagh, of Chatterton Road, Bromley, was handed the jail term on Monday at the Old Bailey after being found guilty of murder by a jury - writes standard.co.uk The court heard the 35-year-old was “controlling and possessive” towards victim Sophie Cavanagh, 31. Jurors were told he sabotaged her Match.co...
Society
A man who survived 12 years in a children's home blighted by a "paedophile ring" told a public inquiry how he cowered under his bed most nights as he called on the council who ran it to apologise to him directly. Paul Connolly, 56, spent 12 years living at St Leonard's Children's Home in Hornchurch while staff routinely attacked boys in their care. Mr Connolly this week told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse how he arrived just before his eig...