Haiti (MNN) — The pressure dial is still rising in Haiti as gang violence and kidnappings increase in a political vacuum. The country doesn’t have any more elected officials and unrest has complicated the appointment of new political leaders.
In fact, Mission Aviation Fellowship just made the difficult decision to pull their pilots, mechanics, and staff out of Haiti. The decision went into effect on April 1st.
David Carwell, MAF’s Haiti country director explains why the current climate in Haiti has gotten so dangerous: “The political arena has deteriorated, and all elected positions, all the terms have expired. What I mean is there’s no elected President. The President was assassinated and has not been replaced. All of the legislators, the senators, deputies, mayors, all the elected positions are defunct at this point. In some cases, there’s somebody in the office that really doesn’t have the authority of the elected position.
“Meanwhile, the gangs have grown. With the lack of jobs, people are struggling to eat and to make ends meet, and they have turned to criminal activity in order to provide for their families.”
There was at least one kidnapping per day committed by Haitian gang members. But lately, Carwell says, “By this point, more than that…. Human rights group say that kidnappings now average more than four per day.”
Things have gotten increasingly challenging for Christian ministries. The roads are treacherous to travel — especially in or near Port-au-Prince — so transporting supplies is difficult.
MAF used to circumvent many of the gang threats since they fly and don’t rely as much on road travel. But there were still times they couldn’t use an airstrip due to unrest in area.
Carwell says the bigger concern for MAF was, “We were in a position where family units were not able to stay together. We were doing rotations. We have a number of families on our team with young children and it was just not a healthy situation at the time. So we needed to take care of those families.”
Although MAF is ceased operations in Haiti for now, the ministry is hopeful this is simply “see you later,” not truly “goodbye.”
Carwell says, “Many people are curious about our pause and we’ve been asked, do we want to sell airplanes? Do we want to sell equipment, our homes, or even offer us jobs? Our team is resolute in wanting to return to Haiti. No, we’re not selling our airplanes or anything like that. We really have every intention of going back to Haiti if the Lord were to open that door, and that’s what we’re praying for.”
He asks, “Pray for the security situation to be adequate so that elections can be held and government positions can be filled once more.”
Pray ultimately for changed hearts to the Gospel in Haiti, that gang members would abandon acts of desperate violence to follow Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to make Haiti a peaceful country so ministry may continue.
Header photo courtesy of MAF.