A group of missionaries from an Ohio-based Christian organization have been kidnapped in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, CNN reports. In total, 14 adults and three minors are said to have been abducted.
Christian Aid Ministries confirmed the missionaries and family members kidnapped in Haiti are a part of their organization, according to a report in the Washington Post.
After visiting an orphanage in the Croix des Bouquets area, the missionaries were en route to Titanyen on Saturday. They were abducted between the two places.
The minute-long recording confirms those abducted include organization staff as well as family members who were returning from a site visit to an orphanage in Haiti, according to the report.
The "prayer alert" came from the person familiar with the situation.
"The mission field director and the American embassy are working to see what can be done," the voice on the recording stated, the Washington Post reported. "Pray that the gang members will come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ."
One of the abducted missionaries posted a plea for help in a WhatsApp group as the kidnapping was taking place.
"Please pray for us!! We are being held hostage. They kidnapped our driver. Pray pray pray. We don't know where they are taking us," the message said.
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said late Saturday it was aware of the reports.
"The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the highest priorities of the Department of State,” the spokesperson said. “We are aware of these reports and have nothing additional to offer at this time.
Kidnappings have skyrocketed in Haiti throughout 2021, with numbers rising nearly 300% since July. Since January, at least 628 kidnappings have occurred, of which 29 are of foreigners, 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.
As EBONY previously reported, the Caribbean nation has been thrust into political turmoil with a devastating earthquake, the assassination of Jovenel Moïse, and the recent migrant/border crisis.
Haitian Foreign Minister Claude Joseph sought the help of the United Nations Security Council to help ensure security and protection for civilians, according to a UN news release.
"These are the legitimate expectations of the people who have suffered enough from gang violence, kidnapping, and widespread crime," Joseph said.