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Gang-related Activity Increasingly Targeting Religious Groups   

10/18/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) –Authorities in Haiti continue to search for a group of 17 Christians, including five children, who were kidnapped Oct. 16, 2021, while on assignment with Christian Aid Ministries.

The group of missionaries was returning home from building an orphanage and were abducted by the 400 Mawozo Gang in Ganthier, a community east of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The gang controls the area and is well-known for extortion, abductions, and carjackings.

A statement released by Christian Aid Ministries says, “We request urgent prayer for the group of Christian Aid Ministries workers who were abducted while on a trip to visit an orphanage on Saturday, October 16. We are seeking God’s direction for a resolution, and authorities are seeking ways to help.”

“The group of sixteen U.S citizens and one Canadian citizen includes five men, seven women, and five children. Join us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected. Pray for those who are seeking God’s direction and making decisions regarding this matter.” “As an organization, we commit this situation to God and trust Him to see us through. May the Lord Jesus be magnified and many more people come to know His love and salvation.”

The Guardian writes that “one of the abducted Americans managed to send a message on WhatsApp calling for help as the kidnapping took 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.”

Haiti has experienced a spike in these types of criminal activities, particularly since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise and August earthquake. The 400 Mawozo Gang has a history of targeting religious groups, and has recently scaled up activities.

Other religious freedom incidents in Haiti from this year include an April kidnapping of 5 priests and 2 nuns, as well as a September murder of a deacon and the kidnapping of his wife.

ICC President Jeff King, said, “Our hearts are heavy with the news of this recent kidnapping; we are actively keeping them and their families in prayer. Haiti has experienced a very challenging year, one which has been deeply impactful on the Church and its ministry activities. The targeted abductions of ministry staff are a tragic reality in many countries, and we are saddened to learn that this type of pattern is deepening within the US’s neighboring country of Haiti. We urge the US authorities to remain engaged in this current issue, and for the religious freedom community to take a deeper look at how Haiti’s gang-related activities are impacting the activities and expression of various faith communities.”

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