Fifteen of the 17 missionaries kidnapped in Haiti.
This is how 12 missionaries who were kidnapped in Haiti in October and were released last week fled from their captors, according to a spokesman for the organization to which they belong, Christian Aid Ministries (CAM), told a press conference on Monday.
The account has not been corroborated by the US or Haitian authorities.
They were part of a group of 17 missionaries kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang in the capital Port-au-Prince on October 16.
The gang had asked a million dollars per hostage. It is not clear if he was ever paid.
The missionaries were in the hands of the kidnappers until they found “the perfect moment” to escape, said CAM spokesman Weston Showalter during a conference in the state of Ohio, in the United States.
“They found a way to open a door that was closed and locked, they quietly went to the path they had chosen to follow and left the place,” he continued.
After evading “numerous vigilantes”, the group headed towards the mountain, “guided by the stars.”
The group included a married couple, a 10-month-old baby, and two teenagers, 14 and 15 years old. There were also four adult men and two women.
They moved through “forests and thickets, avoiding thorns and brambles,” Showalter added.
The spokesperson explained how the group, including the children, remained silent during the journey. The 10-month-old baby was wrapped in clothing to protect her from the thorns.
“It was two hours through the brambles. We were in gang territory during the whole hikeThe spokesman said, citing the account of one of the missionaries.
Near dawn, they found a person with a phone who assisted them by calling authorities.
Soon after, the group was flown to Florida on a US Coast Guard flight, according to CAM. Most are already with their families.
Negotiations with the kidnappers
When it was learned that they were released last week, police spokesman Gary Desrosiers told AFP that authorities they negotiated for weeks with the kidnappers.
Two members of the group had been released in November and another three in December. Their identities have yet to be revealed.
During a press conference, David Troyer, director of CAM, said that with the help of the people they formed a fund to continue the negotiation process, although he did not clarify whether any ransom had been paid.
Who are these missionaries?
Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries describes itself as a group organization Amish, Mennonites, and Anabaptists serving physical and spiritual needs around the world.
They tend to dedicate themselves mainly to actions humanitarians.
CAM, like other organizations, has provided shelter, food and clothing to children in Haiti, oneof the poorest countries in the world.
According to Melani McAlister of the Department of American Studies at George Washington University, donations of money and humanitarian assistance are often channeled through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are often Christian associations, such as CAM.
Members of these organizations frequently go to areas on the front line of conflict, extreme needs and citizen insecurity, as in the case of Haiti. breaching with that some of the safety recommendations of the US Department of State
Deal with the band
The kidnappers fed and provided the missionaries with drinking water, as well as formula for the baby, the CAM representative said, and got baby formula for the little girl.
However, the washing water was contaminated, causing some to skin sores.
Showalter, the CAM spokesman, denied initial reports that the driver of the bus from which they were abducted was a local Haitian.
Instead, he said it was a Canadian who was also released.
“The hostages spoke with the gang leader on several occasions, reminding him of God and warning him of his possible trial,” Showalter said, adding that the missionaries kept a 24-hour prayer vigil while in captivity.
Showalter’s account has not been confirmed by US or Haitian officials.
Kidnappings are one of the main sources of funding for 400 Mawozo.
In April its members kidnapped members of the Catholic clergy, who were released days later. It is unclear whether the million-dollar ransom they requested was paid.
Haiti has one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world.This year, and as of October, 800 had been reported, one of the highest annual figures.