Assistance for Haitians Faces Setback After American Nurse and Daughter’s Kidnapping

by Ethan Kim
Kidnapping in Haiti

The efforts aimed at assisting Haitians amidst the ongoing gang violence were dealt a severe blow after an American nurse and her young daughter from New Hampshire were abducted and remain missing as of Tuesday.

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7, 2021, Haitian gangs have been accruing power and are now believed to control around 80% of the capital. A significant increase in kidnappings has been recorded since January, considerably more than in past years. The rise in murders, sexual assaults, and abductions has incited violent reprisals from civilian vigilante groups.

About 200 Haitians took to the streets of the capital to express their outrage over the kidnapping of Alix Dorsainvil, an American nurse working for the nonprofit Christian organization El Roi Haiti. She and her daughter were taken captive on Thursday. Dorsainvil is married to El Roi Haiti’s founder, Sandro Dorsainvil.

Nonprofit organizations frequently serve as the sole institutions within Haiti’s lawless regions, and the escalating violence has compelled many to cease operations. This has left thousands of vulnerable families without basic services such as healthcare and education.

Doctors Without Borders announced earlier this month that it was ceasing operations in one of its hospitals after around 20 armed men invaded an operating room and abducted a patient.

Eyewitnesses recounted to The Big Big News that armed men stormed into the small brick clinic where Alix Dorsainvil was working last week and took her captive. Local community members allege the kidnappers have demanded a $1 million ransom, a common tactic employed by the gangs terrorizing Haiti’s underprivileged citizens. Local nonprofit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights reports that hundreds of kidnappings have taken place this year alone.

On the same day of Dorsainvil and her daughter’s abduction, the U.S. State Department advised against traveling to Haiti and instructed nonemergency personnel to depart, due to the rampant kidnappings that frequently target U.S. citizens.

Kenya’s Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that it had offered 1,000 police officers to aid in training the Haitian National Police to help restore order in the country and secure strategic facilities.

On Monday, protestors from the region around El Roi Haiti’s premises, including a medical clinic and a school, marched through the sweltering streets holding up Creole-written signs in red paint. One sign read, “She is doing good work in the community, free her.”

Jean Ronald expressed that his community has greatly benefitted from the services provided by El Roi Haiti. As the protestors navigated the area where Dorsainvil was abducted, the area was eerily silent. The clinic doors were closed, and the small brick building stood vacant. Ronald and others expressed concern that the latest kidnapping might result in the clinic’s permanent closure.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller declined to disclose on Monday whether the kidnappers had made any demands. Miller stated that they are maintaining regular contact with the Haitian authorities and will continue working with them and other U.S. government partners. However, due to an ongoing law enforcement investigation, he couldn’t provide more details.

In a video for El Roi Haiti’s website, Alix Dorsainvil characterized Haitians as joyous, lively, and loving people that she felt privileged to know. Dorsainvil is a graduate of Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts, which offers a program supporting nursing education in Haiti.

El Roi Haiti revealed in a blog post on Monday that Alix Dorsainvil developed a deep affection for the people of Haiti following a visit after the devastating 2010 earthquake. The organization is working in conjunction with authorities in both nations to secure the release of her and her daughter.

“Please continue to pray with us for the protection and freedom of Alix and her daughter. As our hearts break for this situation, we also continue to pray for the country and people of Haiti and for freedom from the suffering they endure daily.”

This report includes contributions from AP journalists Megan Janetsky in Mexico City and Pierre Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Kidnapping in Haiti

Who was kidnapped in Haiti?

Alix Dorsainvil, an American nurse from New Hampshire who was working for the nonprofit Christian organization El Roi Haiti, and her young daughter were kidnapped in Haiti.

Why is the kidnapping of the American nurse significant?

The kidnapping of Alix Dorsainvil is significant as it represents a blow to aid efforts in Haiti, a country already grappling with gang violence and instability. Nonprofit organizations often provide crucial services such as healthcare and education in areas affected by lawlessness, and this incident has raised concerns about their ability to continue operating.

What is the current security situation in Haiti?

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, Haitian gangs have gained power and are now believed to control around 80% of the capital. The number of kidnappings has significantly increased, and gang violence is escalating.

Who is working to help the situation in Haiti?

Several entities are working to assist the situation in Haiti. Nonprofit organizations such as El Roi Haiti and Doctors Without Borders have been providing critical services in the country. Kenya’s Foreign Ministry has also offered to assist by training the Haitian National Police. The U.S. State Department is maintaining regular contact with Haitian authorities and working with them to address the situation.

What has been the public response to the kidnappings?

The public response to the kidnappings in Haiti has been one of outrage and fear. About 200 Haitians marched in protest against the kidnapping of Alix Dorsainvil and her daughter. There are concerns that continued violence and kidnappings could lead to the closure of aid organizations, leaving vulnerable families without access to basic services.

What are the demands of the kidnappers?

Local community members allege that the kidnappers have demanded a $1 million ransom. However, the U.S. State Department has not confirmed this information due to the ongoing law enforcement investigation.

More about Kidnapping in Haiti

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BethanyJ August 2, 2023 - 1:19 am

This nurse was just trying to help, and this is what she gets? doesn’t seem fair. prayers for her and her daughter. hope they get back safe.

RileyM August 2, 2023 - 1:39 am

million dollars ransom? thats insane! these gangs are out of control.

Martin_1984 August 2, 2023 - 6:16 am

Its just sad how the rich countries look away when poor countries are suffering. we need to do better.

JamieSmith August 2, 2023 - 10:26 am

This is just heartbreaking. Something needs to be done asap. people are suffering, living in constant fear. Can’t imagine how that nurse and her daughter must be feeling…

DadOfThree August 2, 2023 - 12:32 pm

The world needs to wake up and see whats happening in Haiti. Its not just a ‘third world problem’. These are real people. My thoughts go to the nurse’s family.

Globetrotter2023 August 2, 2023 - 2:13 pm

im tired of the violence, when will it end… Haitians deserve better, they deserve peace!

SarahLovesTravel August 2, 2023 - 3:25 pm

wow, I was planning a trip to Haiti next year. Definitely second guessing that now. Stay safe everyone.

SimonTheThinker August 2, 2023 - 6:00 pm

The global community should step up more. These people need our support, not just words. Its high time actions speak louder than words.


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