May 27, 2024

Haitians gather to protest kidnapping of American nurse and her daughter

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Chants of “freedom” echoed through the streets outside an aid facility in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, on Monday where just days earlier an American nurse and her daughter were kidnapped by armed men.

Hundreds of Haitians marched through the gang-ravaged zone, bursting with anger at the abduction, which has become a symbol of the worsening violence plaguing the Caribbean nation.

New Hampshire woman Alix Dorsainvil had been working as a community nurse for the religious and humanitarian aid group El Roi Haiti when she and her daughter were taken from its campus on Thursday, the organization said. She is the wife of its founder, Sandro Dorsainvil.

Witnesses told the Associated Press that Dorsainvil was working in her organization’s small brick clinic when a group of armed men burst in and seized her. Lormina Louima, a patient waiting for a check-up, said one man pulled out his gun and told her to relax.

“When I saw the gun, I was so scared,” Louima said. “I said, ‘I don’t want to see this, let me go.’”

Alix Dorsainvil with her husband Sandro.AFP – Getty Images

Other members of the community said the unidentified men asked for $1 million in ransom, something that’s become standard as Haiti’s gangs turn to slews of kidnappings to line their pockets and bleed the country dry. Hundreds have been kidnapping in Haiti this year alone, figures from the local nonprofit Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights show.

Since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021, gangs have taken over much of Port-au-Prince, killing, raping and sowing terror in communities already suffering endemic poverty.

The same day that Dorsainvil and her daughter were taken, the U.S. State Department issued a “do not travel advisory” for Haiti and ordered nonemergency personnel to leave amid growing security concerns. In its advisory, the State Department said that “kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include U.S. citizens.”

Earlier this month, Doctors Without Borders announced it was suspending services in one of its hospitals because some 20 armed men burst into an operating room and snatched a patient.

As the protesters walked through the area where Dorsainvil was taken, the streets were eerily quiet. The doors to the clinic where she worked were shut, the small brick building empty. Ronald and others in the area worried the latest kidnapping may mean the clinic won’t reopen.

“If they leave, everything (the aid group’s programs) will shut down,” the Haitian worried. “The money they are asking for, we don’t have it.”

Shortly after, protests dispersed.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller refused to confirm Monday whether the abductors had made any demands, or to answer other questions.

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