The efforts to secure the return of 17 members from a U.S.-based missionary organization and a local driver lasted until Wednesday. A violent gang demanded $1 million per person.
Five children, aged between 8 and 15 years old, were taken by the group. However, authorities are not certain if they were included in the ransom demand, a senior Haitian official stated Tuesday. 16 of the abductees were Americans, and one Canadian.
According to Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, the FBI and other U.S. departments were part of a coordinated U.S. government effort to rescue the missionaries. However, officials from Haiti, the U.S., and the church group were not able speak out about sensitive information.
The other problems plaguing the Caribbean country have been exacerbated by a wave of kidnappings. According to the Center of Analysis and Research of Human Rights (a non-profit organization in Haiti), at least 119 people were kidnapped by Haitians during the first half of October.
According to it, the abduction occurred in addition to 17 missionary members. A Haitian driver was also taken with them. This brings the total to 18.
The official from Haiti, who was not authorized for speaking to the media, said that someone from 400 Mawozo gang made Saturday’s ransom demand in a call to a leader at Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries. This happened shortly after the abduction.
The Ohio group stated Tuesday that “this group of workers has been dedicated to minister throughout poverty stricken Haiti.” They also said that they had recently worked on a project to rebuild homes damaged in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit southwestern Haiti on August 14.
According to the organization, the group was returning from visiting an orphanage and was then abducted.
A rash of kidnappings prompted a strike Monday, which shut down schools, businesses and public transport — a blow to Haiti’s already weak economy.
On Wednesday, life was mostly back to normal, although unions and other groups promised to organize another strike next Wednesday. There were also sporadic protests in Port-au-Prince Wednesday over a lack of fuel. Gangs were blamed for blocking gas distribution terminals.
A swarm of motorbike taxi drivers drove around Delmas, lighting tires on fire and throwing rocks onto the roads to stop them.
We want gas to work! They yelled, “If we can’t find gas we’re going shut down the country!” “Prime Minister Ariel Henry, if you cannot run the country, you must go!”
Similar protests were held the day before.
Many people marched through Titanyen on Tuesday, demanding the release and peaceful protest of the missionaries. Others carried signs reading “Free the Americans” or “No to Kidnapping!” They explained that the missionaries had helped pay the bills, build roads, and schools.
Beatrice Jean said, “They do so much for us.”
One protest was held near the residence of the prime minister, and police used tear gas to disperse a group demanding fuel.
This kidnapping was one of the most serious in recent years. As Haiti tries to recover after President Jovenel Moise’s assassination on July 7, and the earthquake that claimed more than 2,200 lives, the gangs in Haiti have become more brazen.
Christian Aid Ministries stated that the kidnapped group consisted of six women, six men, and five children. The sign at Berlin’s headquarters, Ohio, stated that it was closed because of the kidnapping situation.
Marcus Yoder, the executive director of Amish & Mennonite Heritage Center in Millersburg, Ohio, stated that news of the kidnappings quickly spread in Holmes County, Ohio. This is the hub of conservative Mennonites and Amish.
Christian Aid Ministries is supported by conservative Mennonite and Amish groups that are part the Anabaptist tradition.
According to Steven Nolt of Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, the organization was established in the 1980s. It began work in Haiti in the latter part of that decade. He said that the group employs a year-round staff to assist in Haiti and other countries and ships medical, religious, and school supplies around the globe.