CV NEWS FEED // Unknown assailants abducted six nuns and their companions “in broad daylight” while they were traveling through the capital of Haiti last week, according to Vatican News.
Early in the morning of January 19, six Catholic Haitian nuns of the Sisters of Sainte-Anne Congregation were traveling via bus through Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, when gunmen overtook the bus and drove it to an unknown location. The perpetrators were likely gang members.
From Vatican News:
The kidnapping, confirmed in a press release from the Haitian Conference of Religious, has also been strongly denounced by Bishop Pierre-André Dumas.
The Bishop of Anse-à-Veau and Miragoâne strongly and firmly condemns “this latest odious and barbaric act that shows no respect for the dignity of these consecrated women who give themselves wholeheartedly and completely to God to educate and form the young, the poorest and the most vulnerable of our society.”
The gunmen also kidnapped the bus driver and a young girl traveling with the sisters.
Dumas expressed his willingness to take the hostages’ place, according to Vatican News.
According to The Miami Herald, the area where the kidnapping took place “is controlled by the Grande Ravine and Village de Dieu gangs. It is unclear which group took the nuns hostage.”
President Morachel Bonhomme of the Catholic Haitian Conference of the Religious asked for prayers for the safety of the nuns. “These too many kidnappings fill the consecrated people of Haiti with sadness and fear,” he stated. “May the solidarity of the consecrated people of Haiti and the world help them to overcome this harsh ordeal.”
Pope Francis called for an end to the violence in Haiti and for the release of the nuns on Sunday afternoon after praying the Angelus.
“I have learned with sorrow of the kidnapping, in Haiti, of a group of people, including six religious sisters,” Francis said. “In my heartfelt plea for their release, I pray for social concord in the country, and I invite everyone to bring an end to the violence, which is causing a great deal of suffering to that dear population.”
Attacks, murders, and kidnappings have been “intensifying in the country’s capital,” The Miami Herald reported. In the last year alone, suspected gangs have killed almost 4,000 Haitians and kidnapped 3,000 more, according to a recent report from the United Nations News.
Within the last two weeks, gangs have set houses in the area on fire, killing several residents. Gang members executed some who tried to escape the burning homes, the Miami Herald reported:
Solino, home to many police officers, has struggled to remain free from gang control despite its strategic location, which provides routes for kidnapping gangs to move hostages. Callers into local radio stations this week said that while the neighborhood’s cops attempted to stop the deadly raids, they were outgunned by gang members and many residents had no choice but to flee their homes.
Protests have also broken out against the government as food shortages and prices of necessities increased across the country. Roadblocks near Port-au-Prince caused by the gang activity have contributed to the food shortages, and “supply trucks are being hijacked.”
On January 18, “anti-government protests flared up [in] other parts of the country following calls by a former rebel leader, Guy Philippe, for Haitians to take to the streets to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry,” The Miami Herald continued:
A convicted felon who was recently repatriated to Haiti after serving nine years in a U.S. prison on drug-related money laundering charges, Philippe has been moving through the country with armed men and police officers in what he describes as “a revolution” to transform Haiti. On Thursday, protests were reported in the cities of Ouanaminthe in the northeast, Jeremie in the Grand’Anse and in the rural Nippes region.
In its latest briefing of the situation in Haiti, the U.N.’s World Food Program cited Nippes as one of the regions of the countries, along with the south, where the price of basic goods has skyrocketed by 23% since October. Vegetable oil, the agency said, has increased by 66% in the Nippes area since December.