A number of Americans were reportedly kidnapped by a Haitian gang on Saturday. The group of 17 U.S. missionaries, including 14 adults and 3 children, were kidnapped while traveling home from building an orphanage in Haiti.
According to Fox News, the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries sent a one-minute voice message to various religious missions on Saturday, to announce the kidnapping and ask for help.
This is a special prayer alert. Pray that the gang members would come to repentance.
The message also stated that the mission’s field director is working with the United States Embassy, and that the field director’s family and one other unidentified man stayed as the ministry’s base while everyone else visited the orphanage. The missionaries were traveling by vehicle to Titanyen, north of the capital Port-au-Prince, after visiting the orphanage in the Croix des Bouquets area. They were abducted along the route between the two places.
No other details were immediately available, but a U.S. State Department spokesperson said they were aware of the kidnapping reports.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the U.S. government spokesperson said, declining further comment.
Haiti is currently dealing with another spike in gang-related kidnappings that had briefly diminished after President Moïse was murdered in his private residence back on July 7, and following a 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the country in August, killing more than 2,200 people.
Recent kidnappings have seen gangs demand ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $1 million. At least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haiti’s National Police in the first eight months of this year, compared to a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a recent report from the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, known as BINUH.
Gangs continue to grow in power and are upping the ante on their kidnappings, taking schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, and entire busloads of passengers as their victims.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend the U.N. political mission in Haiti on Friday. This latest kidnapping of Americans comes just days after high-level U.S. officials visited Haiti and promised more resources for the country’s National Police, including another $15 million to help reduce gang violence.