American missionary abducted in Haiti sent desperate WhatsApp message: report
The seventeen people from an Christian aid mission abducted in Haiti while returning from an orphanage remain missing, four days later.
Their kidnapping – brazen even in a country where abductions have increased exponentially recently – have cast a spotlight on the work that religious relief organizations undertake in sometimes dangerous conditions.
Indeed, such aid groups are often found in the parts of the world where conditions are most dire.
To understand the sorts of security protocols they take, and how they weigh their call to serve against significant risks, we spoke with three religious relief groups: Samaritan’s Purse, Catholic Relief Services, and Mennonite Central Committee. Each does relief work in Haiti.
Christian Aid Ministries, the group whose workers were kidnapped on Saturday, is based in Berlin, Ohio. Its relief teams are from Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist communities, according to its website.
The kidnappers are reportedly demanding $1 million per person abducted
Those abducted include six men, six women, and five children; 16 are Americans and one is Canadian.
The children kidnapped include an 8 month-old baby, and 3, 6, 13 and 15-year-olds, according to Christian Aid Ministries.
One of the 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday sent a harrowing cry for help on WhatsApp as the group of 16 Americans and one Canadian were being abducted, according to a report.
“Please pray for us!! We are being held hostage, they kidnapped our driver. Pray pray pray. We don’t know where they are taking us,” group message said, according to a report in the Washington Post.
The terrifying message came as the group — which includes adult missionaries as well as their children — was being taken from a bus bound for the airport in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, according to reports.
Haiti has faced upheaval since President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated by gunmen in his home in July, a case that has yet to be solved by local law enforcement.
The missionary group was kidnapped by the “400 Mawozo” gang, which controls the town where the missionaries were abducted, and is known both for targeting religious groups and mass kidnappings, the Washington Post said.
Gangs have been accused of kidnapping schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, busloads of passengers and others as they grow more powerful. In April, 400 Mawozo kidnapped five priests and two nuns, a move that prompted a three-day protest.