Crisis and Kidnappings in Haiti
Kidnappings, gang violence, and fuel shortages place Haiti in a crisis.
By: Keelin Ferris | October 27, 2021 | 522 Words
Haiti is struggling to get back on its feet following the loss of its president and a big earthquake. Kidnappings, gang violence, and a fuel shortage have brought a crisis to the nation’s capital.
Controlled by Gangs
The unstable government has left voids for gangs to fill. On October 16, one Haitian gang kidnapped 16 Americans and one Canadian visiting on a missionary trip. They were returning from an orphanage when they were attacked and kidnapped in the suburbs outside of the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
The 400 Mawozo gang has threatened to kill the hostages if their demands are not met. The $17 million ransom will spare the five children, seven women, and five men.
Haitian Prime Minister Henry Ariel wants to bring harmony and a well-functioning government. In a press conference on the recent kidnappings and gang violence, Henry said, “we would like for public peace to be restored, that we return to normal life and that we regain our way to democracy.”
Last week, at an annual ceremony to honor the first emperor of Haiti, Ariel was forced to run away as the G9 gang, a collection of nine Haitian gangs, appeared on the scene firing their weapons. Leader Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier seized control of the event and paid respects to Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who claimed independence for Haiti and led the abolishment of slavery.
Talks have started in hopes of bringing the missionaries home safe. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the State Department was working with the FBI, the Haitian national police, churches, and other groups to get the hostages released.
The United Nations Security Council also confirmed the “wave of kidnappings and rise in gang violence.” There has been a rise in kidnappings over the past year. Haiti holds the world’s highest per capita kidnapping rate, with Haitian citizens typically being the main targets.
According to the United Nations, a fuel shortage could lead to the loss of lives if hospitals and health centers do not get fuel as soon as possible. Over the weekend, hospitals were forced to turn people away and force patients out. The U.N. expects some hospitals to start shutting down early this week.
Blockades and abductions of fuel truck drivers, set up by gangs, are preventing fuel transport. They are blocking the delivery of essential goods and services. Emergency help is still needed following the August 14 earthquake but struggling Haitians cannot access supplies due to gangs hoarding items and controlling the main transport routes.
Cell phone networks are also suffering as fuel to run the cell towers dries up. Fights broke out among Haitians trying to get fuel at gas stations across the capital city. Aid groups are struggling to be effective as they fear being kidnapped or attacked by gangs in Port-au-Prince.
The situation in Haiti is getting more serious. The U.S. government is working to save its kidnapped citizens, while aid groups are doing their best to help Haitians.