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Ohio lawmakers watch situation in Haiti where 17 from Ohio based ministry are being held hostage

Haiti Earthquake
Posted at 5:53 PM, Oct 18, 2021

CLEVELAND — The White House Monday afternoon confirmed that President Joe Biden is receiving regular updates on the efforts to free the 17 kidnapped missionaries from an Ohio-based ministry with the State Department and FBI taking the lead and the U.S. Embassy in Haiti working with the families.

"We can't get into too many details about the individuals and their identities because of privacy act waiver considerations,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

Over at the State Department, they would not say if they've been in touch with the kidnappers or know where the hostages are being held.

"This is something that we have treated with the utmost priority since Saturday,” said spokesman Ned Price. “Our teams across the building have been working closely with our interagency partners and as I said before with our partners on the ground in Haiti."

Lawmakers across the state tweeting out their support for the victims of this crime reportedly carried out by a known gang in search of ransom.

Governor Mike DeWine knows all too well the dangers there, the Becky DeWine School in Haiti named for his daughter educates some of the nation's poorest and is run by his good friend Fr. Tom Hagan.

"Look it's a tough place to operate,” DeWine said. “Fr. Tom, one of the things that he has had to do is to broker peace agreements between the rival gangs that run the Cite Soleil where his school is. You know he has to do that if he wants to keep these schools open."

He's been in touch with the White House as has Senator Sherrod Brown who told News 5 they remain in the dark.

"We stand with our country and with these workers, I know a number of them come from Holmes County not too far from Wooster and we pray for them and equally importantly our government, the State Department, the Defense Department will stand with them and do whatever it takes to make sure they're safe,” said Brown.

Rep. Dave Joyce points out how Haiti has been rocked by months of turmoil, the assassination of its president in July, and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August.

"After the assassination of the president you really wonder who's in charge down there and that makes the job of trying to negotiate with whatever the powers that be that much harder because it's not as though they have a centralized form of government we can communicate with,” Joyce said.

He prays for a peaceful resolution for the sake of the missionaries and the Haitian people who benefit from their services.

"If we're sending missionaries down there they shouldn't have to fear for their lives we have to bring some peace and order to that country."