Ariel Henry, Prime Minister of Haiti, has condemned the increase in gang violence and kidnappings in the country, the Washington Post reports.

In a pre-recorded message delivered on Friday, Henry also reassured the Caribbean nation that they were not running out of fuel despite accounts of public strikes and complaints from the citizens.

This is the first time that Henry has publicly acknowledged the recent issues that are plaguing the country. As EBONY previously reported,  17 members of a U.S.-based missionary group—16 Americans, one Canadian—were kidnapped in a string of gang-related kidnappings that have been running rampant across the country.

“If they do not stop their wrongdoing, the law will apply to them,” Henry said in his message. “The only option for bandits and all their sponsors is imprisonment or death if they do not want to change professions."

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that abducted the missionaries, has said he would kill all of them if the ransom was not paid. According to Haitian officials, the gang is seeking $1 million per person, but it wasn’t clear if that included the children. The youngest child that was abducted is just 8 months old.

Although Prime Minister did not specifically mention the missionaries that were kidnapped, he denounced the kidnappings as a systemic problem impacting the nation.

“All those who take the Haitian people hostage, terrorize the population, are the enemies of the people. All those who deal with them so that they can take power, they are all enemies of the Haitian people, and we are treating them as enemies,” he said.

Since July 7th, Henry has been Prime Minister of a country that has been in turmoil since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Along with the recent gang violence, the nation has endured a devastating earthquake and Haitian migrants being deported back into the country in a tenuous border crisis.

“The nation lives under the thumb of bandits,” he said. “Citizens cannot leave the capital to go to the south. The country’s economic situation is dire. Inflation and the high cost of living keep their hold on national life. The budget deficit has reached an unprecedented level and the gourd (the Haitian currency) continues to drop sharply against the US dollar.”

The prime minister finally addressed the country after a strike led to schools, businesses, and public transportation shutting down of the capital of Port-au-Prince. Additionally, gangs have been blamed for blocking access to gas terminals, with at least one gang leader reportedly saying if Henry stepped down, they would end the blockade.

The shortages in fuel have dramatically affected schools, ambulances, public transportation, hospitals, and many other aspects of the daily lives of the citizens.

“This is really catastrophic,” said Solon Cledion, director of a private school in Port-au-Prince. “The day-to-day is difficult. ... We wonder how long this is going to last.”

Doctors Without Borders, which operates a trauma hospital in Tabarre, is only treating patients with life-threatening emergencies because of continuing power outages. Patients suffering from COVID-19, who depend on respirators face the greatest risk because of the lack of fuel.

Dr. Kanouté Dialla, the hospital’s manager, addressed the crisis in a statement.

“Without fuel, we can’t run our hospital,” added Dialla. “We are doing our best to maintain our activities by adapting them from day to day, but this situation is unsustainable.”

Te Haiti Prime Minister said he understands the country’s growing frustrations and that the administration is doing its best to work on the nation’s various problems.

“To all those who have legitimate demands, who have declared they are fed up with inflation, poverty, and insecurity, I guarantee that their voice is heard by the government,” he said. "Gangs are our enemies. No real solution to the country’s problems will emerge if we do not arm ourselves with the courage to fight and eliminate this scourge.”