A notorious gang is behind the kidnap of a group of North American missionaries near Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, officials say.
The five men, seven women and five children were returning from a visit to an orphanage when they were abducted on Saturday.
The Catholic Church has previously described the situation as “a descent into hell”, with gangs taking people from all walks of life, both local and foreign.
According to Gedeon Jean, director of the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, based in Port-au-Prince, the vast majority of kidnappings were carried out by the 400 Mawozo gang.
The 400 Mawozo gang normally demands a ransom. In April, it was blamed for the kidnap of a Catholic clergy. They demanded $1 million for the safe return of the Catholic clergy.
Haiti has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world.
This year has been particularly bad, with more than 600 kidnappings recorded in the first three quarters of 2021, compared with 231 over the same period last year, according to a local civil society group.
Christian Aid Ministries, which supports Haitians largely through donations and supplies shelter, food and clothing to children and helps to fund their education, said in a statement on Sunday it was “praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected”.
The rise has come in the wake of President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination in July, as rival factions fight to gain control of the country in the face of a struggling police force.