The weak Haitian government faced a new crisis on Sunday after a mob abducted seventeen missionaries, sixteen Americans and a Canadian near Port-au-Prince on Saturday.
“There are five men, seven women and five children in a group of sixteen U.S. citizens and one Canadian citizen,” the Christian Aid Ministry said in a statement Sunday.
“Pray with us for those held hostage,” the Ohio-based organization added.
As Haitian NGOs travel to the eastern part of the capital on Saturday to abduct people, armed groups are calling for the use of a security vacuum to ease the political crisis that has worsened since the assassination of President Joanel Mois.
“Police appear to be powerless to confront gangs that regulate and control more land in the metropolitan area (Port-au-Prince),” said Gideon Jean, director of the Center for Human Rights Analysis and Research.
Haitian police do not want to answer an AFP question about this.
The religious organization of the abducted missionaries reported that they were abducted along with their family members when they returned to an orphanage.
Members of the so-called “Mouse 400” confiscated several cars traveling on the highways they controlled and abducted American and Canadian citizens. For some members of the religious establishment, this was their first visit to Haiti.
For his part, a U.S. government spokesman previously told the AFP that “the welfare and security of U.S. citizens abroad is one of our priorities in the State Department. We are aware of this information and have nothing to add at this time.”
“We are aware of this information and have nothing to add at this time,” a State Department spokesman reiterated Sunday.
The Washington Post quoted someone who was familiar with the details of the case as saying that the abductee had sent a distrustful message to a group via the WhatsApp application when the facts occurred.
In the message: “Pray for us, please! They have taken us hostage, they have abducted our driver. Pray, pray, pray. We do not know where they will take us,” the newspaper says.
Armed gangs that have controlled the poorer parts of the Haitian capital for years have expanded their influence to Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas, where they are working to increase the number of kidnappings. According to the Center for Analysis and Research in the Haitian capital-based field of human rights, more than 600 cases were reported in the first three quarters of 2021, compared to 231 in the same period in 2020.
For years, a deep political crisis has hampered Haiti’s social and economic development.
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