'We are grateful to God': 3 more hostages released in Haiti, Ohio-based mission group says

·4 min read
Christian Aid Ministries in Holmes County said three more hostages have been released in Haiti.
Christian Aid Ministries in Holmes County said three more hostages have been released in Haiti.

Christian Aid Ministries in Ohio said on Monday that a violent gang in Haiti has released three more hostages, while another 12 remain captives.

The statement from the Holmes County-based organization said the people were released on Sunday in Haiti and are “safe and seem to be in good spirits." The group provided no further details.

On Nov. 21, the religious organization announced that the 400 Mawozo gang had released the first two hostages of a group of 17 kidnapped in mid-October. There were 12 adults and five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old. Sixteen of the group come from Amish, Mennonite and other conservative Anabaptist communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other states, plus the one Canadian.

Christian Aid Ministries: What we know about Ohio-based kidnapped missionaries in Haiti

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands are met. Authorities have said the gang was seeking $1 million per person, although it wasn’t immediately clear if that included the children in the group.

Christian Aid Ministries, an Anabaptist missions organization based in Berlin in Holmes County, released the following statement: “We are thankful to God that three more hostages were released last night. As with the previous release, we are not able to provide the names of the people released, the circumstances of the release, or any other details.”

The group reiterated its request for supporters to devote Monday through Wednesday as days of prayer and fasting “to intercede for those who are still being held as well as those who have been released.”

Haiti's 'descent into hell': Kidnappings, gangs ran rampant well before the spotlight on American missionaries

Haiti has seen a spike in kidnappings

The release comes amid an ongoing spike in kidnappings in the capital of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti, which is struggling to recover from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck in mid-August and a severe fuel shortage.

Christian Aid Ministries has been active in Haiti since a major earthquake in 2010 killed more than 200,000 people there, orphaning many children. It paused its work in 2019 and 2020 over safety concerns.

The organization has not agreed to media interviews or to answer questions about the current hostage crisis involving its members.

On Sunday, a gang leader known as “Ti Lapli” posted a YouTube video warning people not to cross in upcoming days through the Martissant community, which has been the site of violent clashes between warring gangs.

“Insecurity has increased,” the gang leader said. “I invite the people of Martissant to stock up on food and gasoline. The next few days will be difficult... We will not remain with our arms crossed in face of those who try to destroy us."

Area missionary reacts

Lenord Bonnegre is a Haitian missionary who is married to a Holmes County woman. They run a mission school in rural Haiti.

Bonnegre said he is grateful for the release of five kidnapped mission workers so far but is frustrated by the lack of progress in the whole Haitian hostage situation.

"America has the largest military force and investigation service in the world and yet one gang in Haiti is dominating the Americas," he said. "So even with the presence of the FBI, what makes the American government unable to liberate the people? Would this be the case with an American diplomat?

"The Haitian government is asking other countries for reinforcements and to invest in the Haitian military to help fight insecurity," Bonnnegre continued. "The U.S. government has said no while the country continues daily in inhuman conditions."

Bonnegre said he believes what needs to happen for the liberation of the missionaries and others kidnapped in Haiti is more pressure from the American government.

"The American government needs to put a lot of pressure on the Haitian government," he said. "They need to negotiate so that people can be liberated, or rely on a Divine miracle of God."

In response to the news that three more hostages were released, Holmes County Commissioner Joe Miller said prayer must be working.

Wooster Daily Record Staff Writer Kevin Lynch contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Christian Aid Ministries says gang releases 3 more hostages in Haiti

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