The US State Department has urged Americans to “depart Haiti now” after kidnappers threatened to kill missionaries held captive and the child of an evangelical pastor was shot dead.
Pastor Stanis Stifinson, the student coordinator of The Evangelical Theological Seminary of Port-au-Prince ( Séminaire de Théologie Evangélique de Port-au-Prince – STEP) was shot at, on Saturday.
The family was traveling home through Croix-des-Bouquets, when their vehicle was attacked by gunmen.
One of his children died on the spot, while the pastor and his older son are recovering from gunshot wounds.
“A group of the large family of the UEBH met [on Nov. 8] at the STEP extension campus for a special moment of prayer. We have interceded before God for the country that is plunging into unprecedented instability, for the victims of atrocities that Haitian families know, and especially for the family of the Step Student Affairs Coordinator,” the seminary wrote in a statement on its Facebook page. “The latter and his entire family were victims of an armed attack while they were returning home.”
Meanwhile, the leader of a Haitian gang who kidnapped North Americans last month has threatened to execute them.
Two of the 17 missionaries have been released, the organisation said Sunday.
The attack on the pastor and his family comes some three weeks after 16 American missionaries, one Canadian and a local driver working with the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries were kidnapped by the 400 Mawozo gang.
It also comes just days after the United Nations urged its employees to stock up on emergency supplies on Oct. 28.
The US warning also came amid fears that fuel shortages could add to instability in the impoverished Caribbean nation.
“The Department of State urges US citizens to make plans to depart Haiti now via commercial means,” American officials said in a statement.
“US citizens should carefully consider the risks of traveling to or remaining in Haiti in light of the current security situation and infrastructure challenges,” it said.
“Widespread fuel shortages may limit essential services in an emergency, including access to banks, money transfers, urgent medical care, internet and telecommunications, and public and private transportation options.”
The US Embassy acknowledged that it “is unlikely to be able to assist US citizens in Haiti with departure if commercial options become unavailable.”
Seats “on commercial flights currently remain available,” the US government stressed.
Meanwhile, the Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries (CAM) linked to the kidnapped missionaries have urged prayers for the 400 Mawozo gang.
“The kidnapping took place on October 16, and we are still waiting and praying for the group to be released, if God so wills. We request continued prayer for the kidnappers, that God would soften their hearts and that they would experience His love and goodness,” CAM said.
They also urged prayers for the millions of Haitians trapped in ongoing upheaval. “As you pray, remember the millions of Haitians who are suffering through a time of serious upheaval and unrest,” the group said.
“We desire that God would be their ‘refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” it added, referring to Bible verse Psalm 46:1.
Separately the United Nations had urged its employees to stock up on emergency supplies.
Political insecurity has added to difficulties in Haiti, where Christians are among those targeted for kidnappings.
Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moïs, was assassinated in July this year, underscoring fears about rampant violence by crime groups in the troubled nation.
(Agencies; Picture Courtesy: Séminaire de Théologie Evangélique de Port-au-Prince)