Haitian gangs have international groups, residents living in fear

Haitian gangs have international groups, residents living in fear
·1 min read

The fate of a group of missionaries, most of them Americans, being held for ransom by a criminal gang in Haiti remains unclear Thursday. Sixteen U.S. nationals and one Canadian were kidnapped on Saturday after returning from an orphanage. The group is asking for $17 million to release the missionaries. 

Residents in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince remain in a constant state of fear after criminal gangs have swept the area to fill the void of an unstable government. One man told CBS News' Manuel Bojorquez through a translator that he "fears for his life and has to go out to work for his family." 

Charl Joel, a 29-year-old married father of one, says if he does not pay the gangs an extortion fee, they will not let him drive.  Drivers of a small army that delivers desperately needed food, medicine and other items from the central warehouse of "Food for the Poor" say they are targets. Monseigneur Ogee Beauvoir said the warehouse is nearly full but they cannot deliver the supplies.   

"It's heartbreaking because we have the goods available but you can't reach out to those people," Beauvoir said. 

Kidnapping clergy and missionaries is the gangs' latest escalation.  

"I do feel that insecurity. I live and work here and anybody can get kidnapped at any time," said Beauvoir. 

The insecurity is even impacting international groups, including International Medical Relief and Doctors Without Borders, which has had ambulances attacked and health care workers threatened — leaving those areas with limited access to car. 

"The situation has deteriorated...but there's no way Doctors without Borders is considering leaving the country," Thierry Goffeau, head of the group's mission said. 

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