American Missionaries Reportedly Abducted in Haiti
A top Holy See diplomat on Friday warned of “unbearable” security problems in the country.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A group of 17 missionaries and family members were abducted in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported. The missionaries were part of the evangelical Christian Aid Ministries, based in Ohio, and were kidnapped while returning from building an orphanage.
According to reports, the group Christian Aid Ministries announced the kidnapping in an alert to fellow missionary organizations. The Washington Post, which obtained an audio recording of the alert, said that both organization staff and family members were reported as abducted, and the group included children. The alert asked for prayers that “the gang members would come to repentance and faith in Christ.”
A person familiar with the situation said one of those abducted sent a message via WhatsApp, the Post reported. “Please pray for us!! We are being held hostage, they kidnapped our driver. Pray pray pray. We don’t know where they are taking us,” the message stated.
The missionaries were based in the town of Titanyen, and were returning from building an orphanage in Fond Parisien, according to the Times report.
Haiti has been rocked by natural disasters, civil unrest, and frequent gang violence and kidnappings in recent months. The country’s president Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his home in July, and a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the country in August.
A top Holy See diplomat on Friday warned of “unbearable” security problems in the country, in a statement at the United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Haiti.
The presidential assassination “proves that no one is invulnerable,” said Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. “Lack of security has become unbearable, with seemingly no hope in sight.”
He noted “widespread civil unrest” in Haiti, where “kidnappings have become commonplace, and gang violence is so pervasive that humanitarian actors are impeded from carrying out their vital work.”
“Frequently these have included missionaries and personnel of faith-based organizations,” he said.
In April, 10 Catholic priests and religious were abducted in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets. The criminal gang which calls itself "400 Mazowo” demanded a $1 million ransom in the case. Three of those abducted were released the same day, while the remaining seven were released after several weeks; it was unclear if the ransom had been paid.
At the time the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince warned in a statement that gang violence in the country had reached “unprecedented” levels.