NewsCovering America

Actions

Several Michigan residents believed to be among missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haiti US Kidnapped Missionaries
Posted at 12:53 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 15:53:13-04

DETROIT — Several people from Michigan are among the 17 missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti over the weekend.

WXYZ has learned that six of the 17 are from Michigan, with their home base being Hart Dunkard Brethren Church in Oceana County on the west side of the state.

According to the Associated Press, the FBI searches for 12 adults and five children linked to Christian Aid Ministries in Ohio.

The news outlet reported that the group, consisting of 16 Americans and one Canadian, was kidnapped Saturday during a trip to visit an orphanage.

On Monday, Christian Aid Ministries confirmed the adults range in age from 18 to 48 and that the five children are 8 months, 3 years, 6 years, 13 years, and 15 years.

One of Haiti's most powerful gangs is believed to be behind the kidnappings.

According to the Wall Street Journal, they ask for $17 million, equal to $1 million for each kidnapped. Now, the FBI is involved.

Turmoil has rocked the streets of Haiti since their president, Jovenel Moise, was assassinated in July.

Since then, there has been a surge in kidnappings, more than 600 so far this year and over 100 in the last month alone.

A "protest strike" has also shut down businesses, schools, and public transportation as unions and other groups protest the rise in crime while authorities continue searching for a group of 17 missionaries.

In all, there are 16 Americans and one Canadian.

"It seems that as many as six of these folks might be Michiganders, including adults and kids," Rep. Andy Levin said.

The White House said they are working to get the group back home.

"The US embassy in Port-Au-Prince is coordinating with local authorities and providing assistance to the families to resolve the situation," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

The group is believed to have been kidnapped by the gang 400 Mawazo, one of many groups known to kidnap for ransom.

Haitian authorities say they're being held in a safe house in a suburb of the capital, Port Au Prince.

It's similar to another orphanage operated by Detroit Mitch Albom, who helps care for poor children, providing food, safety, and education.

Albom was just at his orphanage over the weekend when the attack happened and said 40 staff members, including four from Michigan, are still there.

'They're OK. They're safe. All the people that we have working with us in Michigan are OK and safe," he said. "We take great precautions. We don't take any chances. We have security, armed security outside our orphanage."

With the surge in kidnappings now making national headlines, Albom and Levin hope the U.S. will take action.

"It's one thing to be born poor or to live in poverty, it's another to live in terror," Albom said.

WXYZ first reported this story.