Haiti's kidnapping crisis is causing more turmoil

At an alarming rate, the number of kidnappings occurring in Haiti is on the rise. Haiti is still reeling from the chaos of President Jovenel Moise's assassination in July, and the 7.2 earthquake that decimated the country in august. Experts call this a kidnapping crises.

Haiti's kidnapping crisis is causing more turmoil

The latest high-profile kidnapping of 17 missionaries and five children was committed on Saturday. The group includes 16 Americans and one Canadian citizen. Christian Aid Ministries, a Ohio-based charity, said that the group was returning from building an orphanage and was about to return home.

"We seek God's guidance for a solution, and authorities are looking for ways to help. We ask you to join us in praying for the hostages, the kidnappers and their families, friends and churches. "Pray for those who seek God's guidance and make decisions about this matter," Christian Aid Ministries stated in a statementonline.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti was involved in the response, although officials from the United States have not commented on the details.

A spokesperson for the Department of State stated that "The welfare and safety of U.S citizens abroad is one of our highest priorities" in a statement to NPR.

Kidnappings are usually carried out by the same gang

Widlore Merancourt is the editor-in-chief of the AyiboPost, and a contributor to the Washington Post. He said that kidnappings are often carried out by the same gang in Haiti, and that it's only getting worse.

400 Mawozo is known for their mass kidnappings, in which they steal large numbers of people from buses and cars. The 400 Mawozo are responsible for 80% of kidnappings in Haiti, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights in Port-au-Prince.

Merancourt stated that the current wave of kidnapping in Haiti is the most severe in its history. It's a very serious situation.

"Kids, children are being kidnapped. These kidnappers are targeting women. Practically everyone is being kidnapped. It is common to see police officers taken hostage. He said that small traders on the streets are being kidnapped."

Data from the consulting group Control Risks shows that in the first quarter of this year alone, kidnappings-for-ransom were up 150% from the same period in 2020. A United Nations Security Council report last month showed that 328 kidnapping victims had been reported to police during the first eight months in 2021, as opposed to 234 for the entire of 2020.

Even more worrying is the undercount. According to Control Risks, the number of kidnapping cases is likely to be even greater. However, people often hesitate to report incidents due to mistrust of authorities or fear of retaliation.

This data shows that gangs in Haiti target Haitians more than tourists. Since 2018, nearly 95% of Haitian citizens have been kidnapped. There have been instances of foreigners being kidnapped in the past. One such case was in April, when two French nationals were kidnapped by a group of Catholic clergy.

Economic volatility is fueling the problem

Merancourt stated that most Haitians live in fear of being kidnapped. He said that the streets of Port-Au-Prince become quieter and less crowded around 6 p.m. because very few people want to go out in public. He said that some people are leaving the country.

These fears are likely to be exacerbated by the current economic and political crisis facing Haitians. Haiti's 60% population lives below the poverty line. The August earthquake caused widespread destruction of schools, water systems, and health facilities, leaving 800,000.00 people in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

The ransom for kidnapping leaves gangs with capital even though it is a small amount. Merancourt stated that sometimes gangs kidnap people less well-off and demand $100 in ransom.

Haitian police officers are not equipped to deal with gang violence. Some cases even show that the police force is connected to gangs and violence. This creates distrust in reporting kidnappings.

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