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As Haiti’s Suffering Deepens, Four Kidnapped Religious Men and a Teacher Released in Port-Au-Prince; Two Brothers of the Sacred Heart Still Held Captive…

As Haiti’s Suffering Deepens, Four Kidnapped Religious Men and a Teacher Released in Port-Au-Prince; Two Brothers of the Sacred Heart Still Held Captive…

Four Brothers of the Sacred Heart and a teacher kidnapped on 23 February in Haiti have been released, while two still been held in captivity, according to a statement released by the Congregation.

By Lisa Zengarini

As Haiti reels under a state of emergency amid gang violence threating to bring down the government, the Haitian province of the Congregation of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart announced on Monday that five of the seven people kidnapped just over two weeks ago in Port-au-Prince have been released by their kidnappers.

Two Brothers of the Sacred Heart still held captive

They include four members of the religious Congregation and a teacher. “The struggle is not over, because Brothers Pierre Isaac Valmeus and Adam Montclaison Marius are still held captive,” said a press statement shared with SIR news agency.

The seven were kidnapped by an armed group on 23 February as they traveled to the Jean XXIII School, in the gang-controlled Bicentenary neighborhood in downtown Port-au-Prince where they work.  The Congregation reported that a ransom demand had been made.

The abduction added to the long string of kidnappings which have become the main business of criminal gangs who control vast parts of the country and most of the capital.  

Gang warfare has dramatically increased in Haiti since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021.  The killing worsened criminal control in the country and today innocent citizens are regularly killed, raped and held for ransom.

Prime Minister Ariel Henry still in Puerto Rico

The Caribbean country plunged deeper into chaos last week, after armed groups broke thousands of inmates out of prison on March 3, while Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in in Nairobi, Kenya, seeking a deal for a long-delayed U.N.-backed mission to restore order and security.

Despite the declaration of the state of emergency,  gangs have further stepped up their attacks on police stations and other government institutions, as well as   hospitals, demanding PM Henry to resign.  

Henry is still in Puerto Rico and prevented from landing in Port-au-Prince by the gangs who have seized control of Haiti’s international airports.

In the face of the worsening situation, the United States have decided to airlift non-essential embassy personnel from the country and added U.S. forces to bolster embassy security, and the European Union’s delegation in Haiti has also temporarily closed its offices and reduced its presence in the country to the minimum.

CARICOM meeting in Jamaica to discuss Haiti crisis

Leaders from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are meeting in Jamaica on Monday to discuss a political transition in Haiti through the creation of a broad-based, independent presidential college, as well as the deployment of a multinational security mission. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is also taking part in the talks.  

Pope Francis’ concern for Haiti

Pope Francis is following with concern the latest developments of the situation in Haiti. During the Angelus on Sunday he expressed his closeness to the local Church and all the Haitian people who have been suffering for years. He called on everyone to pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for an end to all the violence. He also encouraged everyone to offer their contribution so that peace and reconciliation  may prevail with the support from the international community.

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