PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — The remaining members of a U.S. missionary group who were kidnapped two months ago in Haiti have been freed, Haitian police and the church group said Thursday.
The spokesman for Haiti’s National Police, Gary Desrosiers, confirmed to The Associated Press that the hostages had been released, but did not immediately provide additional details.
“We glorify God for answered prayer — the remaining 12 hostages are FREE!” Christian Aid Ministries said in a statement. “All 17 of our loved ones are now safe.”
The Ohio-based group said it hopes to provide more information later.
Late Thursday afternoon, a convoy of at least a dozen vehicles, including U.S. Embassy SUVs and Haitian National Police, brought the missionaries to the Port-au-Prince airport from the missionary group’s offices in Titanyen, north of Port-au-Prince.
Earlier, people at the Christian Aid Ministries campus could be seen hugging each other and smiling.
The missionaries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang on Oct. 16. There were five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old. Their Haitian driver also was abducted, according to a local human rights organization.
The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang had threatened to kill the hostages unless his demands were met. Authorities have said the gang was demanding $1 million per person, although it wasn’t clear if that included the children.
It remained unclear whether any ransom was paid or what efforts led to the hostages’ freedom.
The hostages are apparently from a variety of backgrounds and churches though I haven’t seen that fully detailed anywhere. We do know several are members of a Dunkard Brethren church in Michigan, and their pastor spoke to the media, which you can see here below. He says that “from all I gather, they were treated relatively well…I’m sure they weren’t treated supremely, life in Haiti is hard even at its best.”
Now that this episode has concluded, you have to wonder what will happen with missionary efforts in this country. Haiti has been a main focus of mission efforts from Christian Aid Ministries, and the Amish, Mennonites and larger Anabaptist community in general, with efforts including annual Haiti benefit auctions raising funds for needs in the country. I suspect that the desire to help will continue, but wonder how well aid can be delivered without representatives in-country.