(WXYZ) — The streets of Haiti are as dangerous as ever with a surge in kidnappings. According to ABC News, more than 600 have been reported so far this year, with more than 100 in the last month alone.
The latest victims are a group of 1 Canadian and 16 American missionaries. A handful of them appear to be from West Michigan.
“It seems that as many as six of these folks might be Michiganders, including adults and kids,” said Congressman Andy Levin.
Levin is a co-chair on the House Haiti Caucus and says the US has been in contact with Haitian authorities, working to get the group home.
"This is 100% bipartisan," Levin said. "Republicans like Bill Huizenga, Democrats like me will work hand in glove to get these folks safely home.”
The group was visiting an orphanage with Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, similar to another orphanage operated by Detroiter Mitch Albom.
“This particular group, I don't know the people in it but it’s very similar to what we do in our orphanage," Albom said. "They take care of poor children and they provide food and safety and education and it’s exactly what we do.”
The missionaries are believed to have been kidnapped by the gang 400 Mawazo, one of many groups known to kidnap for ransom. Albom was just at his orphanage over the weekend when the attack happened and says 40 staff members, including 4 from Michigan, are still there.
“They’re OK, they’re safe, all the people that we have working with us from Michigan are OK and safe," Albom said. "We take great precautions, we don't take any chances, we have security, armed security outside our orphanage.”
With the surge in kidnappings now making national headlines, Albom and Levin hope the United States will take action to not only bring its citizens home but to also work to provide stability and stop the kidnappings once and for all,
“While we’re talking about Americans, this is terrible for the average Haitian citizen," Albom said. "It’s one thing to be born poor or to live in poverty, it’s another to live in terror.”