17 missionaries, children kidnapped in Haiti by US religious group say 17 Haitian missionary children were kidniesnapping 17 US missionaires, according to a religious organization

17 missionaries, children kidnapped in Haiti by US religious group say 17 Haitian missionary childre ...

According to a voice message sent to various religious missions by an organization with direct knowledge of the incident, 'a group of 17 missionaries, including children, was kidnapped by armed gang in Haiti on Saturday.'

According to a message from Christian Aid Ministries in Ohio, the missionaries were on their way back from building an orphanage.

This is a special prayer alert, the one-minute message stated. Pray that the gang members would come to repentance.

The message stated that the missions field director is working with the United States Embassy, and that his family and another unidentified man stayed at the ministry's base while everyone else visited the orphanage.

Other details were not immediately available.

A U.S. government spokesman said they were aware of the reports on the kidnapping.

The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of The Department of State, said the spokesperson, declining to provide further details.

Meanwhile, a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States is in contact with Haitian authorities to try to resolve the matter.

Haiti is once again facing a rise in gang-related kidnappings that had slowed after President Jovenel Mose was fatally shot at his private residence on July 7 and following 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck southwest Haiti in August and killed more than 2,200 people.

According to authorities, gangs have demanded ransoms ranging from a couple hundred dollars to more than $1 million.

Last month, a deacon was killed in front of sacraments in Port-au-Prince and his wife kidnapped, one of hundreds of people who have been abducted in recent months.

According to a report released last month by the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti, at least 328 kidnapping victims were reported to Haitis National Police in the first eight months of 2021, compared with 142 for the whole of 2020.

As they get stronger, gangs have been accused of kidnapping schoolchildren, doctors, police officers, busloads of passengers, and others. In April, one gang kidnapped five priests and two nuns, a move that prompted stalemate that took place over ten days, with Haitian now preparing for another protest scheduled for Monday to condemn the lack of security in the impoverished country.

Political turmoil, the increase in gang violence, and worsening socioeconomic conditions including food insecurity and malnutrition - all contribute to the worseness of the humanitarian situation, BINUH stated in its report. An overstretched and under-resourced police force alone cannot address the security problems of Haiti.

The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on Friday to extend the U-N's political mission in Haiti.

The kidnapping of the missionaries comes just days after high-level U.S. officials visited Haiti and promised more funds for Haitis National Police, including another $15 million to help combat gang violence, which this year has displaced thousands of Haitians who now live in temporary shelters in increasingly unsanitary conditions.

Uzra Zeya, the United States' undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy, and human rights, was among those who met with Haiti's police chief.

She recently tweeted, Dismantling violent gangs is critical to Haitian stability and citizen safety."

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