Constant dollars

Haitian gang demands $ 1 million each for kidnapped American missionaries | Crime News

Violence, looting, roadblocks, armed gangs constitute growing obstacles to humanitarian aid for impoverished nations.

A gang that kidnapped members of a group of Christian missionaries from the United States is demanding a ransom of $ 1 million per person, a senior Haitian official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The official, who was not authorized to speak to the press, said someone from the 400 Mawozo gang called for the ransom shortly after the missionaries were kidnapped on October 16.

A person in contact with the Christian Aid Ministries, who also spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, confirmed the PA’s request for $ 1 million per person.

Haiti sank into anarchy after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July and a magnitude 7.2 earthquake in August. Kidnappings by armed gangs have increased, along with fuel and food shortages and a new wave of migrants leaving the impoverished Caribbean island nation.

Haitian workers called a general strike on October 18 to protest against worsening insecurity and gang violence following the kidnapping of Christian missionaries.

“Many people, including the leadership of CAM and the Haitian and American authorities, are working diligently to get our loved ones home safely,” Christian Aid said in a statement Tuesday without acknowledging the ransom demand.

The adults held in captivity are between 18 and 48 years old, while the children are aged eight months, three years, six years, 13 years and 15 years, according to the statement. Sixteen of the abductees are American and one is Canadian.

The group was returning from visiting an orphanage when they were kidnapped on Oct. 16, the Ohio-based organization said.

“This group of workers is committed to ministering throughout poverty-stricken Haiti,” the ministry said, adding that missionaries were recently working on a reconstruction project to help people who lost their homes in the crisis. earthquake.

The United States sent a team of FBI agents and State Department diplomats to Port-au-Prince to work with Haitian authorities.

Workers angry at the country’s lack of security went on strike in protest two days after 17 members of a US-based mission group were kidnapped by a violent gang [Joseph Odelyn/AP Photo]

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that US officials were in constant contact with Haiti’s national police, the mission group and relatives of the victims.

“This is something that we have been dealing with with the highest priority since Saturday,” Price said, adding that officials were “doing everything in our power to find a quick solution to this problem.”

Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quitel told the Wall Street Journal that the FBI and Haitian police were in contact with the kidnappers and calling for the release of the missionaries and children.

The same gang of 400 Mawazo kidnapped a group of Catholic priests in April. Five priests, two nuns and three relatives were released after the payment of a ransom for two of the priests, Minister Quitel told the Journal.

At least 328 kidnappings were reported to the Haitian National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared to a total of 234 for all of 2020, according to a report released last month by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the ransom demand on Tuesday.

Gangs have been accused of kidnapping schoolchildren, doctors, police, bus passengers and others as they grow more powerful and demand ransoms ranging from a few hundred dollars to millions of dollars.

UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric told the AP that rising gang violence has affected relief efforts in Haiti. He said a UN aid coordinator reported that “violence, looting, roadblocks and the continued presence of armed gangs all constitute obstacles to humanitarian access.”

“The situation is further complicated by very serious fuel shortages and a reduced supply of goods,” said Dujarric.

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