Thirty-eight people who were about to travel by minibus to southern Haiti were taken hostage on Friday, June 10, by a gang in the capital Port-au-Prince.

“Two buses had just been filled with passengers bound for Miragoâne [a town located 100 km west of Port-au-Prince] when the guys from Village de Dieu seized them,” the agency told AFP. France-Presse (AFP), Méhu Changeux, leader of the association of owners and drivers of Haiti (APCH), in allusion to the name of a slum in Port-au-Prince serving as the headquarters of a powerful gang.

“Each bus had 18 people, in addition to the drivers,” he added, without providing details on the motives of the perpetrators.

This group kidnapping comes as the grip of armed gangs on the Caribbean country increases without the police being able to stem this insecurity.

Access to the capital controlled by gangs

Since June 1, 2021, the authorities have lost control of the only road access that connects Port-au-Prince to the southern half of the country because, over the space of two kilometers, the national road is completely under the control of armed gangs . It is on this axis, at the western exit of the Haitian capital, that the kidnapping of 38 people occurred.

Méhu Changeux assures that his organization “always asks drivers not to use this road until the State has restored security”. But this call for caution cannot be observed by the poorest of the inhabitants: traveling by the only alternative road route, not passable, costs much more, in particular because of unofficial tolls. “There continue to be buses that take the risk because some passengers do not have the economic means to pay for transport by the mountain road”, regrets Mr. Changeux.

Last weekend, three young Turkish women were freed after a month in captivity. They had been kidnapped by the criminal gang that controls the entire region east of Port-au-Prince, up to the border with the Dominican Republic. This gang, which hijacked the bus in which they were traveling from Santo Domingo, still holds five Turkish nationals.

For the month of May alone, at least 200 kidnappings have been recorded in Haiti by the United Nations, most of them in Port-au-Prince.