MAF says team in Haiti staying safe and vigilant after 17 people kidnapped

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Posted at 9:19 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 11:38:41-04

NAMPA, Idaho  — Challenging times in Haiti, from the assassination of president Jovenal Moïse to a devastating earthquake. Now kidnappings, have struck the Caribbean nation with 17 people taken including 16 Americans and one Canadian.

For decades, the Christian nonprofit Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Nampa has provided resources for locals in Haiti.

Disaster Response Manager Rick Emenaker said their team in Haiti is staying vigilant.

“Our team in Haiti is fine,” Emenaker said. “We actually have quite an extensive protocol, a security protocol that we used, really not able to discuss much of that just because we don’t want that out there.”

Emenaker said support efforts have increased after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in August.

“We did a lot more flying during that time. Because it was about an hour flight where the epicenter was from Port au Prince,” Emenaker said. "We did 110 hours of extra flying and addition to support an organization. It was a big opportunity for us to reach the needs of people. Even to this day, we are still doing few flights for that earthquake."

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MAF Disaster Response Manager Rick Emenaker gives glimpse inside one of their light aircraft used for training in Nampa, Tuesday morning.

Emenaker said they will continue to provide aid to Haiti.

“Because what happens, is the roads become unsafe with some of the activity, so more people need to fly or want to fly so we have an increased in what we are doing there in Haiti,” Emenaker said.

On Oct. 18, a White House official said it is working with the FBI to get the 17 abductees released. On Tuesday, press secretary Jennifer Psaki gave an update and said the effort continues.

“That the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is coordinating with local authorities in providing assistance to the families to resolve the situation. I also note we had a travel advisory for Haiti which is level 4 to due kidnapping, crime, civil arrest, and of course COVID-19," Psaki said.

The Ohio group Christian Aid Ministries released a statement that on Oct.16, 17 people, including five children, were traveling from an orphanage that the ministry supports when they were kidnapped. Adults range from 18-48 years old.

The nonprofit said:

“Many people, including CAM management and Haitian and U.S. authorities, are working diligently to bring our loved ones home safely. The ages of the adults being held captive range from 18 to 48. The ages of the children are 8 months, 3 years, 6 years, 13 years, and 15 years. Today, we again commit our workers to God’s care. “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). Pray that our workers could respond to hatred with Jesus’ love, overcome the spirit of fear with faith, and face violence with a genuine desire to bless their oppressors. We request prayers for the Haitian and American civil authorities who are working to resolve this situation.”

In 2020 MAF completed more than 13,000 flights to provide support and resources. A spokesperson said the number was low compared to other years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.