UPDATED 6:39 AM PT – Tuesday, October 19, 2021
U.S. officials are working with Haitian authorities to seek the release of a group of American missionaries who were kidnapped by a notorious Haitian gang. Haitian police on Sunday said the U.S. based missionary group was abducted by the 400 Mawozo Gang, noting U.S. authorities were reaching out to the gang regarding the group’s release.
This came after the gang abducted the collection of 12 adults and five children while they volunteered at a orphanage outside the nation’s capital. Locals said the abduction fosters fear throughout the nation hindering commerce.
“When we hear (there is a kidnapping), the effect of the kidnapping, (we know) there’s not going to be (good for) drivers,” explained Charles Pierre, a motorcycle taxi driver. “People do not go out in the streets. We can not find people to transport. We have a wife (and) four to five children, and a family, children. (We) have responsibilities at home.”
The gang is responsible for a number of violent kidnappings and extortion plots throughout the impoverished nation over the last few years, including the kidnapping of five priests and two nuns earlier this year. In response, a State Department spokesman said the “welfare and safety” of U.S. citizens abroad is their highest priority.
Please join me in praying for the protection and safe return of the U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) October 17, 2021
The White House gave an update on efforts to get American missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti back home. On Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the FBI is leading the charge on efforts to see that 17 missionaries from the U.S.-based Christian Aid Ministries are returned to safety. She added, Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the matter.
“The President has been briefed and is receiving regular updates on what the State Department and the FBI are doing to bring these individuals home safely,” Psaki stated.
The press secretary noted that due to operational considerations, she was not going to go into too much detail about the rescue strategy at this time. However, she did confirm there has been engagement with the 400 Mawozo gang and local authorities are assisting in the matter. The identities of the missionaries have not been released at this time, but five of them are confirmed to be children.