A Haitian gang that has kidnapped seventeen US and Canadian missionaries demands $1 million (858,000 euros) ransom per kidnapped. Minister of Justice Liszt Quitel of Haiti informs the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that the FBI and local police are in contact with the kidnappers.
On Saturday, seven women, five men and five children were abducted. Sixteen of them are American nationality, one is Canadian. One of the kids is 8 months old. They are members of the Christian Aid Ministries organization.
Minister Quitel thinks the negotiations could take months, he tells the WSJ. “We‘re trying to get them free without paying a ransom. Because let’s face it, if we give them money, it‘s used to buy even more weapons.”
The missionaries were kidnapped when they were on their way to the airport by bus after visiting an orphanage in the capital Port-au-Prince to drop off part of the group. What exactly happened to the group is unknown, except that the kidnapped are being held by a gang called 400 Mawozo.
In spring Catholic priests and their families were abducted. Then two people were paid ransom and the other eight were released as well. “That would be the ideal scenario for us now,” said the Haitian Minister.
According to Quitel, it is known where missionaries are being held. They’re in a heavily guarded house. At least four hundred heavily armed gang members are guarding the building.
The number of abductions in Haiti has risen sharply since the murder of President Jovenel Moïse in July and a severe earthquake after it. Gangs are increasingly bolder and take control of the country, especially the capital, more and more. Another school bus was shot on Monday, with five wounded. A bus was hijacked further down town.
Human rights organizations have called for the immediate release of missionaries. “We are calling for the liberation of the abducted persons, whether American citizens or other nationalities,” said Gedeon Jean, for example, of the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, based in Port-au-Prince. He called the current situation “detrimental to human dignity”