Crime & Justice

Uncertainty surrounds foreign missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

By Maria Montecelos

Titanyen, Haiti, Oct 30 (EFE).- Two weeks have passed since the kidnapping in Haiti of 17 foreign missionaries by an armed gang on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, with chances for their release still uncertain.

The 16 Americans and one Canadian from the Christian Aid Ministries organization were kidnapped on Oct. 16 by the group 400 Mawozo while visiting an orphanage near Port-au-Prince.

The missing group includes six men, six women and five children between eight months and 15 years of age.

The gang is demanding a ransom of $17 million – $1 million for each person.

Members of the Ohio, United States-based mission in Haiti told Efe Saturday that they are dismayed by the kidnapping of their colleagues, of whom they claim to have no news.

The land owned by the missionary group is reached by a dusty road an hour from the capital, in the town of Titanyen.

Members said they lack information on the status of the missing since they were kidnapped by 400 Mawozo, one of the most dangerous armed groups in Haiti, which controls the area of Croix-des-Bouquets, where they captured the group.

The missionaries worked across the country “supporting thousands of needy schoolchildren, distributing Bibles and Christian literature, supplying medicines for numerous clinics, teaching Haitian pastors and providing food for the elderly and vulnerable,” the organization said.

In recent months, they actively participated in coordinating a reconstruction project for those who lost their homes in the August 2021 earthquake, said the website of the organization, which publishes prayers from all over the world every day calling for the release of the group.

On Tuesday, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said it is examining “all possible options” to free the missionaries. However, it’s not clear what the US has done or has planned, beyond the dispatch of FBI agents to the Caribbean country.

Criminal gangs have strengthened in the midst of the deep political, economic and social crisis in Haiti, exacerbated by the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7.

Kidnapping ransoms are a form of finance for these gangs and, so far this year, at least 747 abductions have been reported, according to data from the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights.

The NGO recently warned of an exponential increase in the number of victims, with 117 in the month of September and 119 in the first half of October. EFE


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