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On Saturday, a group of 17 American-based missionaries were taken hostage by a gang in Haiti notorious for killings, kidnappings, and extortion. The Ohio-based organization, Christian Aid Ministries, said the group was on its way home from helping to build an orphanage when they were abducted.
The group is made up of 12 adults and five children, with 16 of them being U.S. citizens and one being Canadian.
“We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution, and authorities are seeking ways to help. … Join us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected. Pray for those who are seeking God’s direction and making decisions regarding this matter,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement online.
Haiti reeling from multiple crises
The country is still struggling with the aftermath of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake that took the lives of an estimated 250,000 people. Political unrest has grown as well since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July, followed by another decimating 7.2 earthquake in August that left over 2,000 people dead.
In September, the U.S. Special Envoy for Haiti, Daniel Foote, resigned effective immediately after video captured the “inhumane” treatment of Haitian migrants seeking asylum at the southern border.
“I will not be associated with the United States’ inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life,” said Foote.
The Biden Administration has deported thousands of migrants back to Haiti despite growing evidence of gang-related abductions and extortion.
“Working with Haiti, we felt it possible to return people to Haiti,” said DHS Secretary Mayorkas during the annual Immigration Law and Policy conference.
400 Mawozo gang responsible for 80% of kidnappings
In Haiti, most of the kidnappings are conducted by the same gang, called 400 Mawozo. According to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince, a group that monitors kidnapping in the country, 400 Mawozo is responsible for 80% of kidnappings in Haiti.
“The people of Haiti, mired in poverty, hostage to the terror, kidnappings, robberies and massacres of armed gangs and suffering under a corrupt government with gang alliances, simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy,” Foote added in his resignation last month.