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Haiti’s premier condemns gangs, kidnappings in televised address

In a prerecorded address, Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry has condemned the recent uptick in gang violence and kidnappings in the country, reassuring Haitians that the nation is not running out of fuel, despite severe shortages.

 

Henry’s speech, aired on Friday, was the first time the prime minister acknowledged these issues in public since the kidnapping of 17 members of a United States-based missionary group on October 16. The 16 Americans, one Canadian and their Haitian driver were abducted amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings that police are struggling to control.

“If they do not stop their wrongdoing, the law will apply to them,” Henry said in his message. “The only option for bandits and all their sponsors is imprisonment or death if they do not want to change professions.”

The speech comes at a particularly tumultuous time for the small Caribbean island. Henry became prime minister about three months ago, after the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. A few weeks later, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, devastating the south of the country.

 

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that kidnapped the missionaries, including five children, has said he would kill them if his demands are not met. Haitian officials have said the gang is seeking $1m per person, but that it was not clear if that included the children, the youngest of whom is eight months old.

Christian Aid Ministries, which had organised a trip to Haiti for the group of missionaries, in a statement published on Thursday said they hoped the hostages would be released soon, despite the worsening political situation in the country.

“Haiti is in a state of anarchy with no active government,” according to the statement. “Gangs are in charge of many areas and [are] controlling the fuel and goods at the seaports.”

 

In a prerecorded address, Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry has condemned the recent uptick in gang violence and kidnappings in the country, reassuring Haitians that the nation is not running out of fuel, despite severe shortages.

Henry’s speech, aired on Friday, was the first time the prime minister acknowledged these issues in public since the kidnapping of 17 members of a United States-based missionary group on October 16. The 16 Americans, one Canadian and their Haitian driver were abducted amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings that police are struggling to control.

 

“If they do not stop their wrongdoing, the law will apply to them,” Henry said in his message. “The only option for bandits and all their sponsors is imprisonment or death if they do not want to change professions.”

The speech comes at a particularly tumultuous time for the small Caribbean island. Henry became prime minister about three months ago, after the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise. A few weeks later, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, devastating the south of the country.

The leader of the 400 Mawozo gang that kidnapped the missionaries, including five children, has said he would kill them if his demands are not met. Haitian officials have said the gang is seeking $1m per person, but that it was not clear if that included the children, the youngest of whom is eight months old.

Christian Aid Ministries, which had organised a trip to Haiti for the group of missionaries, in a statement published on Thursday said they hoped the hostages would be released soon, despite the worsening political situation in the country.

“Haiti is in a state of anarchy with no active government,” according to the statement. “Gangs are in charge of many areas and [are] controlling the fuel and goods at the seaports.”

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