Seventeen U.S. Christian missionaries, including three children, were kidnapped by a gang on Saturday in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, according to a voice message “alert” that was sent to various religious missions by the Ohio-based Christian Aid Group.
The missionaries were leaving an orphanage that they built in Fond Parisien when the kidnapping occurred, according to the voice message.
The missionaries were based in Titanyen, about 11 miles north of Port-au-Prince.
“The field director’s family and one other man had stayed at the base. All the other staff who were on the visit to the orphanage were abducted,” the alert detailed the grim scenario. It also asked for prayers and that, “the gang members would come to repentance and faith in Christ.”
Concerned about reports of missionaries from the Christian Aid Ministries being kidnapped in Haiti. I have been in touch with the State Dept to encourage them to ensure the safe return of the missionaries.https://t.co/i7ZV2kFiAW
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) October 17, 2021
Christian Aid Ministries is a non-profit that “strives 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,” according to their website.
The field director, who was not with the kidnapped missionaries, is reportedly working with the U.S. Embassy, but no other details were immediately available.
A State Department spokesperson confirmed that the U.S. government is aware of the kidnapping.
“The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the spokesperson told Fox News exclusively, declining further comment.
Haiti remains in turmoil after its’ President, Jovenel Moïse was murdered in July, and after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck in August, killing more than 2,200 people.
Gang-related kidnappings are on the rise, with gangs demanding ransoms that run the spectrum from a couple of hundred dollars to more than $1 million, according to authorities.
In the first eight months of this year alone, at least 328 kidnapping victims were disclosed to Haiti’s police, the United Nations reports; a stark contrast from the 234 kidnapping victims from 2020 in total.
The gangs are indiscriminate with their victims, kidnapping schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, buses full of passengers and more as they gain power. The most recent high profile case was the April kidnapping of five priests and two nuns.
Chaos caused by criminal gangs has displaced thousands of Haitians who are now forced to live in temporary shelters.
The 17 U.S. missionaries were kidnapped just one day after the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to extend the U.N. political mission in Haiti and a few days after U.S. officials promised $15 million to Haiti’s National Police to combat gang violence.
“Political turmoil, the surge in gang violence, deteriorating socioeconomic conditions – including food insecurity and malnutrition – all contribute to the worsening of the humanitarian situation…An overstretched and under-resourced police force alone cannot address the security ills of Haiti,” the U.N. Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) wrote in its report.
More than 30,000 mostly Haitian illegal immigrants flooded the United States’ southern border this summer as the Biden administration took a back seat on national security. As a result, elected representatives in the Texas county of Val Verde intend to sue the Biden administration for their mismanagement of the crisis.
There are no further details from Christian Aid Ministries or the State Department on efforts to recover the 17 kidnapped missionaries.
In 2019, Christian Aid Ministries faced scrutiny after it was revealed that two managers within the organization were aware of one employee’s history of sexually assaulting minors on mission trips, but continued to allow him to join missions to Haiti.
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