“In my heartfelt plea for their release, I pray for social concord in the country. And I invite everyone to bring an end to the violence, which is causing a great deal of suffering to that beloved population,” the Holy Father continued.
On Jan. 24 the Haitian Bishops’ Conference along with the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince held a prayer vigil for the release of the hostages.
Haiti has been in the throes of political instability and rampant violence, including rape, killings, and mass kidnappings, since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021, left a power vacuum in the already-fragile Caribbean country.
Moïse faced charges of corruption and incompetence as well as calls to step down from opposition parties since his five-year term expired on Feb. 7, 2021. However, he refused to vacate the office, noting that the first year of his term coincided with an interim government.
The capital city of Port-au-Prince has been the epicenter of widespread gang violence. According to a 2023 United Nations report, an estimated 80% of the capital is under gang control. The situation has deteriorated since acting Prime Minister and President Ariel Henry assumed office on July 20, 2021, on the basis that some, including Haiti’s most powerful gang leader, Jimmy Cherizier, say that Henry lacks a political mandate.