“Join us in praying for those who are being held hostage, the kidnappers, and the families, friends, and churches of those affected,” Christian Aid Ministries said in the statement.
The gang, known as the 400 Mawozo, abducted the missionaries in the Ganthier commune east of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, police inspector Frantz Champagne told The Associated Press on Sunday.
A team of FBI agents landed in Haiti on Sunday to assist the State Department in securing the release of the missionaries, a source close to the Biden administration confirmed Monday. The source did not have any further information on the status of locating the hostages or of negotiations.
“When we hear there has been a kidnapping … people don’t go out in the streets,” taxi driver Charles Pierre told the AP in the capital.
“The gangs run Port-au-Prince. It is in their control,” Daniel Foote, former special envoy for Haiti, told NBC News in early Octoberafter he resigned in protest over President Joe Biden’s deportation of Haitians seeking refuge in the U.S. on humanitarian grounds.
It came the same day he was met with gunfire while attempting to lay a wreath commemorating one the country’s founding fathers in an area of Port-au-Prince controlled by gangs.
A senior State Department official told NBC News, “We are engaging with Haitian authorities at the senior-most levels.” A spokesperson added that “the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad” was one of their highest priorities.
Christian Aid Ministries offers a school aid program for children and biblical training to local church leaders in Haiti’s Titanyen and La Source villages, according to its website, as well as providing food and material support to locals.
Christian Aid Ministries’ operations in that country were called into question in 2019, when the nonprofit group admitted that two managers had knowingly allowed a man with a history of sexual offenses against minors to serve the organization in Haiti.
As of May 2020, Christian Aid Ministries said it had paid abuse survivors in Haiti out-of-court settlements amounting to “$420,000 to help with housing, funding small business startups, relocation to other places, vocational training, and restitution.”