Having kidnapped 17 American nationals, Haitian gang leader Joseph set the ransom for each individual at $1 million, claiming that he will shoot the hostages if his demands are not met.

This information comes from a video posted on social media, as Joseph stood above the coffins containing the bodies of several of his former gang members.

Despite having issued a ransom for the hostages, no deadline has been set as the non-profit Ohio-based organization Christian Aid Ministries struggles to provide answers.

The 17 missionaries were abducted at gunpoint while visiting an orphanage in the suburbs of Port-au-Prince, among them were 5 children of which one is an 8-month-old baby.

It is still unknown whether the children are also under ransom, as Joseph only exclaimed his displease with Haiti’s current prime minister Ariel Henry and threatened him as well in the process.

The prime minister has not yet spoken up on the matter.

Praying for their loved ones

During a press conference on Thursday, Christian Aid Ministries spokesperson Weston Showalter showed his support for the hostages and their families, inviting Christians around the world to join him in prayer.

He then read a letter from the family of one of the hostages, which read: „God has given our loved ones the unique opportunity to live out our Lord’s command to love your enemies.“

The following letters all prayed that their loved ones be freed and that the kidnappers be freed from sin and experience Christ’s love and compassion.

Showalter couldn’t provide updates on the condition of the hostages, but instead continued his prayers and offered his infinite gratitude to those who offered help to the kidnapped and their families, having lived through similar hardships.

As of now, the FBI and other US agencies are working on freeing the hostages.

Haiti, a gang-ridden country

Kidnappings aren’t an uncommon sight in Haiti, given that Port-au-Prince has higher kidnapping rates than many other larger cities in South America.

In fact, there have been 119 kidnappings during the first half of October, with many more presumed to happen.

This year, another group of religious officials has been taken hostage and released after a ransom has been paid, probably due to the kidnappings being a form of income for the gangs themselves.

This, however, isn’t always the case, as some hostages never get released.

The executive director of an advocacy group in Port-au-Prince, Gideon Jean, stated for the press that the missionaries will surely be released once the ransom is paid, assuring the public that despite not knowing when the gang will be open to negotiations.

Gang behavior is highly frowned upon in Haiti, with a citizen organized strike on Monday due to the gangs blocking gas stations, causing a lack of fuel for the general public’s usage.

Other, albeit more peaceful demonstrations followed, showing support for the kidnapped Americans as they have done a lot for impoverished Haitian communities.

Sadly, organized crime grows in numbers, while the country struggles to recover from the assassination of the former President in July and the earthquake that took the lives of nearly 2500 people.