At least some of the 17 missionaries kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang in Haiti, whose leader Wilson Joseph has threatened to kill them if he is not paid a $17 million in ransom, have been confirmed alive, a senior official in the Biden administration says.
An unnamed official told Reuters that the U.S. government had seen proof that at least some of the 16 Americans and one Canadian are still alive some three weeks after being kidnapped while serving with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries.
The statement comes in the wake of the Ministry of Defense in Haiti’s neighboring Dominican Republic confirming last Thursday that five U.S. helicopters likely on their way to Haiti on a humanitarian mission landed in Puerto Plata province to refuel and rest.
The Dominican Today reports that the helicopters caused a stir on social media due to the political crisis in Haiti that has been exacerbated by the missionaries’ kidnappings.
In their most recent statement on the kidnapping of the missionaries, Christian Aid Ministries said dealing with the situation has been “intense." The group of missionaries includes five children, the youngest being less than a year old.
“It is now the 21st day since the kidnapping in Haiti took place. The past three weeks have been an intense journey, but God has faithfully carried us and the families of the hostages. We trust He has been carrying the hostages as well,” the international aid ministry said Friday.
“Though the hostages face difficult circumstances, we pray that God will give them joy and reminders of His faithfulness and goodness.”
The ministry added that it has no way of communicating with the hostages and wishes “them the hope-filled encouragement of Jeremiah 29:11 — ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”
The organization further noted that if it could communicate with the kidnapped missionaries, it would “assure them they are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.”
“We are working for their return, and many believers around the world are remembering them,” the CAM statement reads.
Last month, a video of Joseph, which recently began circulating on social media, showed the crime boss wasn’t pleased with the pace of negotiations for the release of the missionaries.
“I swear by thunder that if I don’t get what I’m asking for, I will put a bullet in the heads of these Americans,” Joseph threatened, according to a translation cited by Bloomberg Quicktake.
The gang leader further threatened Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles. Bloomberg noted that Joseph’s speech was made in front of open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.
“You guys make me cry. I cry water. But I’m going to make you guys cry blood,” he said.
Christian Aid Ministries noted in an update last week that nearly half of Haiti is now “under the control of gangs.”
The leader of the G9 Family and Allies federation of nine gangs that control parts of Port-au-Prince, Jimmy “Barbecue” Cherizier, urged the United States and United Nations last week to cut its ties with the government to “liberate” citizens. Chaos continues to unfold over three months after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.
“We take this opportunity to invite the United Nations in general and the so-called friendly countries of Haiti, in particular the United States of America, to register in this page of history as loyal allies who want the well-being of the Haitian people by divorcing the status quo,” Cherizier said at a press conference Wednesday.