Currents News Staff
The U.S. State Department and the FBI are on the case of the 17 kidnapped people – 16 Americans and 1 Canadian – in Haiti. Five children are among the group who are affiliated with Christian Aid Ministries. One of the country’s most notorious gangs, 400 Mawozo, are accused of holding them hostage.
The missionaries were traveling to a small village after visiting an orphanage near Port-au-Prince when they were taken. A source in Haiti’s security forces says it’s believed they were kidnapped by gang members at gunpoint. The 400 Mawozo gang is being blamed.
Ohio-based “Christian Aid Ministries,” which the missionaries worked for, is asking for prayers saying in a statement: “We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution and authorities are seeking ways to help.”
The organization offers a school-aid program for children and biblical training for local church leaders in Haiti. Some of the victims were actually able to contact the organization before the abduction and the kidnappers also made contact with them.
“This hits home,” said U.S. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger. “So we keep them in our prayers, and the U.S. government will do everything we can to get them back.”
Haiti is in the middle of a kidnapping crisis, according to new statistics. Control Risks – a group who maintains the world’s largest database of kidnappings for ransoms – found that in the first quarter of 2021, abductions increased by over 150 percent compared to the same period in 2020.
Experts believe the number could actually be higher due to a lack of reporting because of mistrust in authorities and fear of retaliation from criminals. The group most responsible is 400 Mawozo, which is blamed for 80 percent of the kidnappings in Haiti.
So who is this gang that is terrorizing so much of Haiti? The word Mawozo, when translated from Creole, means “inexperienced men.” But the group is widely feared for using rape and assassinations to maintain control. They have also started a trend of mass kidnapping from cars and buses. Their history of targeting clergy and churches has been a red line for many in the Catholic majority Caribbean nation.