The religious organization Christian Aid Ministries announced, Sunday, November 21, the release of two of the seventeen North American hostages, kidnapped in Haiti on October 16. The group of sixteen American citizens and one Canadian, among whom were children, had been kidnapped by a gang on the outskirts of the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince.
« Only limited information can be provided, but we are able to indicate that the two hostages who have been released are safe and sound, in good spirits and in care, » Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement posted on its website. For security reasons, this church did not release the names or the location of the people concerned, nor the reason for their release.
The missionaries and their families were returning from a visit to an orphanage located about thirty kilometers east of the Haitian capital, when they were kidnapped by a gang called « 400 Mawozo », according to a security source. The church said the group consisted of twelve adults, aged between 18 and 48, and five children aged 8 months, 3, 6, 13 and 15 years old. The gang members had claimed one million dollars (about 890,000 euros) per person held captive, according to information gathered by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
In a video posted at the end of October on social networks, the leader of this armed gang threatened to execute the hostages. A few days later, the Haitian police announced « To have received proof of life from all the hostages ». Several FBI agents collaborate with the Haitian authorities and the cell against kidnapping of the national police which has been negotiating for more than a month with the kidnappers.
Explosion of villainous kidnappings in 2021
Haiti is classified as a country in the red zone by the United States which advises its nationals not to go there, in particular because of the numerous kidnappings of which « The victims regularly include American citizens ». Last week, the United States and Canada also recommended their nationals living in Haiti to plan to leave the country where armed gangs are expanding their control, causing a severe fuel shortage.
The armed bands, which for years have controlled the poorest districts of the Haitian capital, have extended their power to Port-au-Prince and its surroundings, where they are increasing the number of villainous kidnappings. They have committed more than 800 kidnappings for ransom since the start of the year, against 231 during the same period in 2020, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, located in the Haitian capital.
In April, ten people including seven members of the Catholic clergy, five Haitian clergymen as well as a French nun and a priest, were also kidnapped by this gang in the same area located about fifteen kilometers from the center of the capital. Three of them were released after twenty days.