Haiti Kidnapping: Ohio Missionaries Released by Gang

The remaining 12 of the 16 American and one Canadian hostages, from an Ohio-based Christian missionary group held captive by a Haitian gang, have been released after being abducted more than two months ago.

Haitian gang demands $17 million in ransom for hostages

On October 16, 2021, in Haiti, the notorious street gang 400 Mawozo, which controls the Ganthier commune in the suburb outside of Port-au-Prince, abducted 17 Christian missionaries who were returning from visiting an orphanage some 90 minutes from their base.

The kidnap victims were a group from the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, which included sixteen Americans in one Canadian, some of whom were women, five of whom were children. The youngest was eight months old at the time, the Washington Post reported.

The 400 Mawozo had demanded $1 million for the return of each victim – a total of $17 million. 

Since the abduction, officials from the US State Department and the FBI have been Haiti working to secure the release of the hostages.

Hostages released little by little, mystery remains

In November, NBC reported that the 400 Mawozo gang released two of the missionaries. Another three were freed in early December.

In both instances, Christian Aid Ministries said they could not offer details of the release.

“We cannot provide or confirm the names of those released, the reasons for their release, where they are from, or their current location,” the ministry said in a statement. “We ask that those who have more specific information about the release and the individuals involved would safeguard that information.”

All hostages now released

The headquarters of the religious group announced on Thursday that the remaining 12 hostages had been released, NBC reported.

“We glorify God for answered prayer—the remaining twelve hostages are FREE! Join us in praising God that all seventeen of our loved ones are now safe,” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. “Thank you for your fervent prayers throughout the past two months. We hope to provide more information as we are able.”

Conditions of release or if ransom paid not revealed

A mystery remains surrounding the release of the hostages, with Christian Aid Ministries, who have remained tightlipped about previous releases, only saying they would provide more information “as we are able.”

Gary Desrosiers, a spokesperson for the Haiti National Police, would not say where the hostages had been taken, only that they had been found safe.

The United States and Canada typically do not pay ransoms, and it is unknown if a ransom was paid to secure the release of the hostages.

US and Canadian nationals urged to leave Haiti

Haiti has the highest kidnapping rate per capita of anywhere in the world. Gangs in Haiti have targeted tourists and Haitians of all ages and all walks of life, including police, doctors, and even busloads of passengers. Both Canadian and US officials have urged their nationals to leave the country.