17 American missionaries including children abducted in Haiti, according to a religious group

A group of 17 American missionaries, including children, were kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, according to a voicemail message sent to various religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident.

The missionaries were returning home after building an orphanage, according to a message from Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.

“This is a special prayer alert,” the one-minute post said. “Pray that the gang members will repent.”

The message indicates that the field director of the mission is working with the United States Embassy, ​​and that the family of the field director and another unidentified man remained at the ministry base while everyone else visiting. orphanage have been removed.

No further details were immediately available.

Gang-related kidnappings spike

A spokesperson for the US government said he was aware of the information about the kidnapping.

“The well-being and safety of US citizens abroad is one of the State Department’s highest priorities,” the spokesperson said, declining to comment further.

Haiti is again grappling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings that declined after President Jovenel Moïse was fatally shot in his private residence on July 7 and following a magnitude 7 earthquake, 2 which struck southwestern Haiti in August and killed more than 2,200 people. .

The gangs have demanded ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to over a million US dollars, according to authorities.

Hundreds of kidnapping victims

Last month, a deacon was killed outside a church in the capital Port-au-Prince and his wife kidnapped, one of dozens who have been kidnapped in recent months.

At least 328 abduction victims were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of 2021, up from a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report released last month by the Integrated Bureau of United Nations in Haiti known as BINUH.

Gangs have been accused of kidnapping schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, buses full of passengers and others as they become more powerful. In April, a gang kidnapped five priests and two nuns, a move that sparked a demonstration similar to the one organized on Monday to denounce the lack of security in the impoverished country.

“Political unrest, increased gang violence, deteriorating socio-economic conditions – including food insecurity and malnutrition – all contribute to the worsening humanitarian situation,” BINUH said in its report. . “An overburdened and underfunded police force alone cannot solve Haiti’s security problems.

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