President Biden is considering “every possible option” to free 17 missionaries, including five children, who are being held hostage by a gang in Haiti, according to the White House.
The president is being briefed daily on the situation and is engaged in the rescue effort for more than a dozen Christian missionaries, including children, held hostage since Oct. 16, officials said.
“The main thrust of our effort thus far has been to deploy a significant number of law enforcement specialists and hostage recovery specialists to work closely both with the ministry, the families, and the Haitian government to try to coordinate and organize a recovery,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday.
He said they were looking at “every possible option” to rescue the hostages.
A Haitian crime gang is holding 16 Americans and one Canadian who work for the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministry. An 8-month-old is among the child hostages.
“I will be sensitive to what is obviously a delicate situation — not say more here — other than we have put the assets and resources in play that we believe can help bring this to a successful conclusion,” Mr. Sullivan said.
He added that he has personally given Mr. Biden updates on the situation, and the president has taken “a deep interest in making sure we get every single one of these people home safely.”
The hostages were kidnapped on Oct. 16 by the 400 Mawozo gang after returning from a visiting orphanage near Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The gang has asked for a $17 million ransom or $1 million per hostage.
The gang’s self-mocking name, which loosely translates to “400 idiots,” is known for brutal tactics and has control of the city where the missionaries were visiting.
The missionaries were taken amid a surge in violence, crime and kidnapping as Haiti plunges into economic and social chaos. In recent weeks, gangs have kidnapped fuel truck drivers and hijacked their rigs, sparking a strike by drivers and transportation unions.
As a result, schools and businesses have closed their doors because fuel is scarce, and hospitals have warned that patients could die unless fuel is delivered.