Florida couple kidnapped and held for ransom in Haiti, family says | Florida

a florida a couple who visited Haitian According to the family, a ransom is being held after the capital of Port-au-Prince was kidnapped.

Jean Dickens Toussaint and Abigail Toussaint were reportedly kidnapped in a bus on March 18 while visiting the affected country to visit ailing relatives and attend a community festival. rice field.

U.S. Department of State advise an american Do not travel to Haiti “because of kidnapping, crime or social unrest”. It did not confirm any kidnappings, but said it was “aware of reports of two US citizens missing in Haiti.”

“The U.S. Department of State and embassies and consulates abroad will never take precedence over the safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad,” the federal agency said.

The Toussaints’ kidnappers demanded $6,000 for their release, relatives said. ABC Miamibut after the money was paid they increased the ransom to $200,000 each. Told.

“We were very worried when they said they were going. We told them not to go, but they wanted to go,” she added.

A family friend who met the couple at the airport to escort them was also kidnapped, the couple’s niece said. ABC Miami.

“They stopped the bus at a stop, asked the Americans on the bus and their escorts to get off the bus, and then took them away,” she said.

Kidnapping for ransom surges Haitimore than 1,200 cases will be reported in 2022, double the number reported in the previous year.

Toussaints’ kidnapping comes after aid agencies warned this week of a “hunger emergency” in which armed groups are paralyzing the poor Caribbean nation. World Food Program (WFP) report Almost half of the population said they starve regularly.

“These are the worst conditions on record,” said WFP. Haiti Directed by Jean-Martin Bauer. “Haiti’s food insecurity continues to worsen and the country is in a state of hunger.”

Since the country’s president Jovenel Moïse, assassinated In July 2021, militant groups took control of much of Haiti, causing the economy to collapse, a reported cholera outbreak, and inflation to set in. increased to 49.3%.

Haiti rights group RNDDH Estimate Gangs, not state security forces, control the capital and extend their reach into the central part of the country.

condition is united nations Issue a request for an international “specialized assistance force” to restore order.

Joe Biden was expected to press his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau to lead Canada’s recovery efforts in Haiti during a trip to Ottawa last week.

In a statement released by the White House on Friday, the president said the United States and Canada “are working closely together to address human security challenges across the region.”

“We are … working with the Haitian people to find ways to provide security and humanitarian assistance and strengthen Haiti’s stability,” Biden added.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/mar/25/florida-couple-kidnapped-ransom-haiti Florida couple kidnapped and held for ransom in Haiti, family says | Florida

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