US Based Missionary Group Says Haitian kidnappers Have Released Three Hostages
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti – The US-based Christian Aid Ministries said Monday the criminal gang holding a group of United States and Canadian missionaries since October, released three of the hostages on Sunday.
“We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night,” according to the statement issued by the Christian Aid Ministries, an Anabaptist missions organization based in Berlin, Ohio.
“As with the previous release, we are not able to provide the names of the people released, the circumstances of the release, or any other details,” the statement said, adding the three “are safe and seem to be in good spirits”.
The missionaries, who were kidnapped outside Port-au-Prince by the 400 Mawozo gang as they were returning from a visit to an orphanage roughly 90 minutes from their base on October 16, included 16 Americans and one Canadian. The captives included five children, the youngest of whom was eight months old.
On November 21, the religious organization announced that the 400 Mawozo gang had released two of the hostages.
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang, Joseph Wilson, alias “Lanmò Sanjou, had threatened to kill the hostages if his demands for a US$17 million ransom was not paid.
In its statement, the religious group urged supporters to devote Monday through Wednesday as days of prayer and fasting “to intercede for those who are still being held as well as those who have been released.”
“Please continue to intercede for those who are still being held as well as those who have been released,” Christian Aid Ministries said Monday. “We long for all the hostages to be reunited with their loved ones.”
State Department officials and the FBI have been on the ground in Haiti, working to secure the release of the hostages.
The release comes amid an ongoing spike in kidnappings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti, which is struggling to recover from the July 7 presidential assassination, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-August and a severe fuel shortage.
Last Friday, media reports indicate that armed individuals kidnapped women’s rights activist, Novia Augustin, the leader of the Federation of Women’s Organizations for Equal Human Rights (FEDOFEDH) and of the Organization “Refuge des Femmes”.
The kidnappers have demanded US$150,000for her release.
Minister for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights (MCFDF), Sofia Loréus, has condemned the kidnapping, calling on the abductors to release Augustin as soon as possible.
In addition, she is also calling on the police and prosecutors to work to ensure the safety of every citizen and in particular of women who are always the most vulnerable in these acts.
The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) said more than 782 kidnappings for ransom have occurred since the start of 2021.