Dec 20, 2021 - World

Christian group: Captive missionaries made overnight escape in Haiti

Christian Aid Ministries sign.

Christian Aid Ministries in Titanyen, Haiti, on Oct. 22. Photo: Ricardo Arguengo/AFP via Getty Images

The 12 kidnapped missionaries who found safety in Haiti last week made a daring overnight escape, walking for miles to find help before being flown to the United States, Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries said Monday.

Driving the news: Their escape came two months after the police say the 400 Mawozo gang kidnapped 17 U.S. and Canadian missionaries in Port-au-Prince and demanded ransom. Five hostages had been released prior to last week's escape.

  • Until Monday, the details of the missionaries' ordeal were unknown.

What they're saying: "They found a way to open the door that was closed and blocked, filed silently to the path that they had chosen to follow and quickly left the place that they were held, despite the fact that numerous guards were close," Christian Aid Ministries spokesperson Weston Showalter said at a news conference.

  • They used a mountain in the distance, followed the guidance of the stars and prayed to find safety, Showalter said, adding that the group included a 10-month-old, a 3-year-old, a 14-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy.
  • The group believes it walked up to 10 miles, "traveling through woods and thickets, working through thorns and briers," he said. As the sun came up, the missionaries found someone to make a phone call for help. "They were finally free," Showalter said through tears.
  • Individuals who were not named provided "funds to pay a ransom and allow the negotiation process to continue,” said David Troyer, general director of Christian Aid Ministries. "We are not able to say anything further in respect to these negotiations."

The big picture: Haiti has been plagued by worsening violence since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July.

  • "The Administration remains committed to Haiti’s future and supporting the safety and prosperity of the Haitian people. We will continue to support the Haitian National Police to improve security for all Haitians, as well as U.S. citizens in Haiti," the State Department said last week.
Go deeper