US nurse and daughter kidnapped in Haiti released: Aid group

Release of Alix Dorsainvil and her child comes days after the UN warned of surge in kidnappings of women and children.

A child holds up a sign reading, 'We're waiting for nurse Alix', during a protest in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, demanding the release of a US nurse and her daughter who were kidnapped
A child holds up a sign reading, 'We're waiting for nurse Alix', during a protest to demand the release of US nurse Alix Dorsainvil and her daughter, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 3, 2023 [Ralph Tedy Erol/Reuters]

A US nurse and her daughter who were kidnapped near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince late last month have been released, the faith-based, humanitarian aid group that the woman had been working with has said.

In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday morning, El Roi Haiti confirmed “the safe release” of Alix Dorsainvil and her child.

“Today we are praising God for answered prayer!” the organisation said, without elaborating on the circumstances surrounding the pair’s release or who had abducted them.

“We are so thankful for everyone who joined us in prayer and supported us during this crisis.”

Kidnappings of women and children have surged across Haiti as the country remains gripped by widespread gang violence.

Earlier this week, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said close to 300 kidnappings of women and children had been reported in the Caribbean nation in the first six months of the year – nearly reaching last year’s total and almost three times more than in 2021.

“Women and children are not commodities. They are not bargaining chips. And they must never be exposed to such unimaginable violence,” Garry Conille, UNICEF’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a statement on Monday.

Haitian gang violence worsened after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which deepened political instability in the country.

The UN has estimated that 80 percent of Port-au-Prince is under the control or influence of armed groups, which are vying for control of neighbourhoods and key roads.

The kidnapping of Dorsainvil and her child – the wife and daughter of Sandro Dorsainvil, director of El Roi Haiti – had spurred protests in the capital, with demonstrators demanding their immediate release.

It remains unclear who took the pair, but a witness told The Associated Press news agency that Dorsainvil was working in the organisation’s clinic when a group of armed men arrived and grabbed her.

United States President Joe Biden also was briefed on the matter, the White House said last week.

Meanwhile, the violence continues in the Haitian capital, where the US embassy on Tuesday instructed all personnel to remain on its compound and said it would not provide services due to “gunfire in the vicinity” of the building.

Late last month, the US Department of State ordered all non-emergency government personnel and their family members to leave Haiti due to the kidnappings and attacks.

“Kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include US citizens,” the department said in a travel advisory, adding that violent crimes including armed robbery and carjackings are also common.

“Protests, demonstrations, tire burning, and roadblocks are frequent, unpredictable, and can turn violent,” the advisory warned. “The US government is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Haiti.”

Source: Al Jazeera