17 Christian Missionaries Kidnapped in Haiti for Ransom

17 Christian Missionaries Kidnapped in Haiti for Ransom

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Seventeen missionaries were kidnapped in Haiti, including 16 Americans and 1 Canadian. The members are from an Ohio Christian group that is said to have tens of millions in assets and are likely to be ransomed for $1 million per head, experts say.

Missionaries kidnapped in Haiti likely to be ransomed for millions

On Saturday in Haiti, in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, seventeen missionaries were forced out of a bus at gunpoint after visiting an orphanage.

The missionaries were part of an Ohio group called Christian Aid Ministries. The group included 16 Americans and 1 Canadian and consisted of five men, seven women, and five children. The youngest was two years old, Reuters reported.

Abductees from global missionary group based out of Ohio

Christian Aid Ministries, based out of Ohio, is a global organization operating in 126 countries. It was founded by Amish and Mennonites in 1981. The ministry is said to be extremely well-funded, largely through donations, with revenue of over $130 million in 2019, the Daily Mail reported.

The group says it was founded “to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.”

US government rumored to be negotiating

A senior US official spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, revealing that the government is in touch with Haitian authorities and working to resolve the case. Hostage negotiators were said to have been summoned.

On Sunday evening, officials from the US State Department confirmed that 16 Americans and one Canadian doing missionary work were kidnapped. The State Department said US embassies do not release information about citizens due to privacy regulations, Reuters reported.

Hostages will be freed, but at a price

Gedeon Jean, the executive director for the Center for Analysis and Research and Human Rights, an advocacy group operating in Port-au-Prince, said the kidnappers could ask as much as $1 million per hostage, the New York Times reported.

“The hostages are going to be freed – that’s for sure,” Jean said. “We don’t know and how many days, but they’re going to negotiate.”

“The 400 Mawozo gang don’t want to kill the hostages,” Jean continued. “Nowadays the gangs, especially in a situation that is a little financially vulnerable, they increase the kidnappings to have enough money.”

“So the motive behind the surge in kidnappings for us is a financial one,” Jean added. “If the gangs need money to buy ammunition, to get weapons, to be able to function.”

Dozens of people kidnapped in Haiti this year, authorities say

Authorities say they believe the missionaries were snatched by the 400 Mawozo Gang, whom they say has already abducted dozens of people this year, including other foreign nationals. In recent months, the gang has been targeting clergy members and other Christian worshipers, the Daily Mail reported.

Further, according to groups that follow kidnappings and Haiti, it is most likely the hostages are being held in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, which is controlled by the 400 Mawozo Gang.

While kidnapping has been on the rise for months in Haiti, with the impoverished country’s economy worsening, abductions of foreigners are said to be rare.

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