Recent Kidnappings in Haiti; 17 missionaries, 6 Children
On October 17, seventeen missionaries were kidnapped in Port au Prince, Haiti. The 17 missionaries consisted of 16 Americans and one Canadian citizen. The kidnappers are known as 400 Wawazo Gang.
The 400 Wawazo Gang is a group who are known for kidnapping missionaries in certain parts of Haiti. This incident is not one of the first and may not be the last. Another similar incident happened in April of 2021 where five priests and two nuns who were French nationals, were kidnapped by the 400 Wawazo Gang.
When they were eventually released, many Catholic schools and universities closed down in protest. While in kidnapping for about three weeks, the missionaries claimed they suffered in “harsh conditions," including lack of food and poor quality food as well.
The kidnappers are known for holding their victims for up to 24-72 hours before demanding a ransom. In the recent kidnapping, they asked for $17 million. According to Executive Director RNDDH(Haitian National Human RIghts Defense Network) Pierre Esperance, “Sometimes they start by asking for millions, but they accept $10,000-$20,000.”
Over time Haiti has experienced many kidnappings from the same group. Not only is this not the first time but, organizations that monitor kidnappings in Port au Prince say there has been an increase of kidnapping within this year alone. Haitian government officials avoid to talk about the kidnappings to the public.
Haiti is known to have the largest kidnapping rate in the world. During the first six months of 2021, there was a total of 395 kidnappings compared to first six months last year there was only 88. Due to the assassination of their President, Moise, and the earthquake in August, the nation has been suffering through severe poverty and tens of thousands of citizens are left homeless. Not only are armed gangs creating chaos by themselves, they are partnered with politicians and private buisnesses which makes it very hard for kidnappings to be prevented in Haiti in the future.