BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) - At least 782 kidnappings were recorded in Haiti in 2021, almost as many as the 796 that was reported in 2020, according to a Port-au-Prince-based human rights group.
The Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights (CARDH) said at least 119 people were kidnapped in the first half of October, “an increase compared to September,” it said.
The latest abduction occurred Oct. 16 when an armed group kidnapped 17 American missionaries, including a Canadian, from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries that was visiting an orphanage when their bus was seized in Ganthier in Port-au-Prince.
The Haitian gang known as 400 Mawozo is demanding $1 million each for their release, said Minister of Justice Liszt Quitel.
He said FBI agents are assisting with the investigation.
The gang is one of Haiti’s oldest and most dangerous with a long history of murder, kidnapping and extortion.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Haitians protested growing criminality on Tuesday.
Demonstrations paralyzed stores, schools and public transportation.
The humanitarian situation has worsened since the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in June. Tensions are rising amid criminal gang violence, shortages of fuel, increases in food prices and a political vacuum that has plunged Haitians into deep uncertainty about the future.
The crisis has also become a problem for countries in the region that are receiving a large inflow of migrants.
Thousands of Haitians are fleeing poverty and political turmoil and risking their lives on dangerous journeys through Latin America in hopes of reaching the US./aa