‘Kidnapping’ Haitians missionists freed

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The two had been charged with criminal association

Two missionaries who were among 19 people who were detained during a Haitian earthquake rescue mission have been released.

Eliana Violette and Mario Joseph were arrested in December after members of their group were accused of kidnapping people.

The pair were released on Friday after cooperating with Haitian authorities.

The group was working with a non-governmental organisation that organised a rescue mission using international teams.

As many as 200 people were killed by the earthquake that struck Haiti on 12 January 2010.

Media playback is not supported on this device ‘Missionary activity’ rare in Haiti

Haitian President Jovenel Moise met the group on Thursday and told them they would be released at midnight on Friday local time.

“Tonight at 11 o’clock, the two missionaries will be released,” he said.

On Monday, Mr Moise denounced the kidnapping accusations and accused the NGO, Child Recovery International, of spreading false information.

“We condemn this illegal activity,” he said.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption The duo helped conduct the first excavations after the earthquake

He also stressed that “missionary activity” was rare in Haiti and that it was not necessary to implement it if the people were not in need.

Two members of the group were found dead earlier this week after they were buried in the rubble of a collapsed school.

Teams of about 140 international rescuers and religious groups, such as US Mormons, came to Haiti after the earthquake, focusing mainly on rescuing earthquake survivors.

Lacking the equipment and expertise of other rescue teams, the Baptist group, which was working with Child Recovery International, developed its own programme with an unspecified number of Haitian trained construction experts and technical assistants.

Mostly young adults in their 20s and 30s, they brought with them lighting, air conditioning and laptops to conduct the relief mission.

Child Recovery International said in a statement: “Child Recovery International regrets these hardships and knows this was simply an opportunity to serve God through an impromptu mission.”

“The religious grounds for believing in salvation through the saving of the life of a person are inalienable for the human family,” it added.

SEE MORE: The Christian charity community in Haiti

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