By Ohio State Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus, 50th Ohio House District
It has been 21 days since 16 American and one Canadian citizen on a mission trip in Haiti have seen their freedom. The group, working with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, was taken hostage by the 400 Mawozo Gang on Oct. 16.
The missionary group consistent of six men, six women and five children and the individuals range in age from 48-years-old to eight-months-old. The gang is demanding $1 million per person for their release and have threatened to kill the missionaries if their demands are not met.
Haiti has become a destabilized nation after the assassination of the country’s president Jovenel Moise in July, leading to gang’s taking over more than half the country. This has led to an increase in kidnappings from 231 a year ago to 600 so far this year.
These men and women were trying to do what they believe is right in their hearts, help out in a country that has been torn apart by politics and natural disasters. Because they are Americans they were taken hostage and exploited for the greed of a few that will most likely do this again.
Thankfully, the FBI has gotten involved with the ministry, families and the Haitian government, but this is not enough. I’m calling on our congressional leaders, our U.S. senators, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and President Joe Biden to do more. I urge you to take action. Use diplomacy to bring home these missionaries safe to their families.
To those reading this article, I urge you to call your federal leaders, congress and senate, to encourage them to take federal action.
These 17 missionaries have lived through enough fear and turmoil. The time for action is now. We must follow the example of these missionaries and do what is right.