Christian Aid Ministries gave thanks to their supporters for their “fervent prayers” throughout the ordeal and stated they would provide more information as they learned more. “We glorify God for answered prayer—the remaining twelve hostages are FREE,” the group said. “Join us in praising God that all 17 of our loved ones are now safe.”
After visiting an orphanage in the Croix des Bouquets area, the missionaries were en route to Titanyen and were abducted between the two places. The youngest of the hostages was just 8-months at the time.
400 Mawozo had also demanded $1 million for the return of each victim and its leader threatened to harm the individuals if their demands weren't met. Reportedly, the gang had been terrorizing parts of Ganthier, which is east of Port-au-Prince where the missionaries were abducted. The gang had a reputation for targeting religious groups and members of the clergy, who were long considered off-limits. They were recently involved in mass kidnappings of cars and buses as well.
Kidnappings have skyrocketed in Haiti throughout 2021, with numbers rising nearly 300% since July. Since January 2021, at least 628 kidnappings have occurred in total. According to data released earlier this month by the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, a non-profit based in Port-au-Prince, 29 of those kidnapping instances have been of foreigners.
The kidnappings were just one of many calamitous events that have plagued the West Indian island this year. Back in July, the Caribbean nation endured the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that left over 2,000 dead, and the recent repatriation of thousands of Haitians due to the Texas border crisis. On Monday, December 13th, a tanker truck carrying gasoline overturned and exploded, killing at least 66 people and injuring scores more.
Officials from the FBI and the State Department are present in Haiti to monitor and secure the release of the hostages.