The kidnappings of 16 American and one Canadian missionary in Haiti are calling attention to hundreds of abductions that have taken place in the Caribbean country this year.
Haiti has evolved into the kidnapping capital of the world, and reports of the crime have boomed in the last year, according to The Guardian and other news organizations. The abductions usually happen in the nation’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Motorists and car passengers sitting in gridlocked traffic are often victims.
“There’s obviously lots of coverage because (the victims in the missionary abductions) are American, but Haitians are getting kidnapped every day,” Firel Joseph, a 44-year-old development worker and near kidnapping victim, told the news organization. “Sometimes it makes the news, but sometimes nobody cares,” added Joseph, speaking under an assumed name.
At least 628 kidnappings have taken place this year in Haiti, and that’s three times the total of all of last year, according to the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, a Haiti nonprofit. The growth in numbers mirrors the rising power of criminal gangs, according to The Guardian.