Haitians Ask Kidnappers to Release Missionary Group Members

Residents of Titanyen, a village north of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, took to the streets on Tuesday (19/10) to demand the release of 17 members of a missionary group who were kidnapped by the Mawozo gang of 400 last Saturday (16/10).

Protesters, including children, held up posters and tree trunks as they crossed the village’s main road.

“Without these missionaries, many of the parents you see here would not be able to send their children to school. Without these missionaries, many of us would probably have been left homeless by the flood. Without these missionaries, our damaged houses will never be repaired,” said one protester who declined to give his name to the public. FLY.

“They are the ones who built the path we are on today.” The man said he couldn’t stay still.

Meanwhile, Robert, another protester, called the missionaries a savior of the citizens.

“They paved our streets; they help us protect our houses from landslides and floods. We ask for their release right now. And we ask the kidnappers to let us live in peace,” he said. Robert told FLY that rampant kidnappings had forced him to drop out of college, for fear of being kidnapped on his way to campus.

The protesters told FLY that they intended to continue out into the streets until the missionaries were released.

Sixteen members of the missionary group from the United States (US) and a Canadian from Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped October 16 after visiting an orphanage in Ganthier, a commune in Croix-des-Bouquets, east of the capital.

The kidnap gang demanded a ransom of $1 million per head, Haitian Justice Minister Liszt Quitel told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday (19/10). Haiti National Police has not responded to requests FLY Creole to comment.

Police are seen trying to remove a burning tire during a demonstration in Port-au-Prince on October 18, 2021, against the rise of kidnapping cases in Haiti.  (Photo: Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol)

Police are seen trying to remove a burning tire during a demonstration in Port-au-Prince on October 18, 2021, against the rise of kidnapping cases in Haiti. (Photo: Reuters/Ralph Tedy Erol)

400 Mawozo is one of the most violent gangs in Haiti. Last April, the gang kidnapped Catholic priests and nuns at gunpoint in the Croix-des-Bouquets area. They were later released.

In Washington, the FBI confirmed to Mouab by email that it was involved in a joint operation to free the missionaries.

“The FBI is involved in the combined efforts of the US government to rescue kidnapped American citizens. Due to operational considerations, no further information is available at this time,” the FBI told Mouab.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki speaks to reporters during a daily press conference in Washington, October 18, 2021. (Photo: AP/Susan Walsh)

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki speaks to reporters during a daily press conference in Washington, October 18, 2021. (Photo: AP/Susan Walsh)

In the daily White House press conference, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki explained why the details of the rescue operation were limited.

“The reason we don’t go into operational details is because our goal is to bring them home, and it’s usually not profitable (for us) to disclose the details publicly during the process,” Psaki said.

It added that “the US Embassy in Port-au-Prince is coordinating with authorities and providing assistance to families to resolve this issue.”

Responding to the security situation in Haiti, on Monday (18/10), UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that the increase in kidnapping cases was affecting humanitarian aid efforts.

“Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Fernando Hiraldo said that violence, looting, road blockades and the constant presence of armed gangs pose obstacles to humanitarian access,” Dujarric said. He also called on the Haitian government to take action.

“It is the duty of the Haitian government to focus on security challenges, including redoubled efforts to reform and strengthen the capacity of the national police force to deal with public safety, and all these crimes must be investigated,” he said.

The protests on Titanyen on Tuesday (19/10) followed Monday’s mass strikes (18/10) in Port-au-Prince and other cities in Haiti protesting the poor security situation and rampant kidnappings. The US State Department has raised its travel warning to Haiti to Level 4: Don’t Travel There. [rd/rs]

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