VENICE – An Agape Flights aircraft was destroyed in Haiti Tuesday by rioters at Les Cayes airport, in the country’s south central region.
According to web and social media posts from Agape Flights, the nonprofit Christian aviation ministry based at Venice Municipal Airport, missionary affiliates have heard that the rioters thought the plane belonged to a politician.
Seven members of an Agape work team in Haiti are all safe and the nonprofit is making arrangements for their return to Venice.
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Agape has canceled this week’s flight, which had been set for Thursday, because of safety concerns.
An update posted on Facebook by New Roots Haiti, a mission group located about in Chiron, about 14 hours away, read: “People are mad that the roads are blocked by gangs, and the only way to travel to the Southern part of the country is by air.
“They assume the airlines control the gangs and are profiting off of the insecurities,” it continued. “Agape’s plane happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
The nonprofit is providing updates on its web site, agapeflights.com as well as on its Facebook page: facebook.com/agape.flights.
A Thursday social media post noted that Agape staff and missionaries are still in Haiti.
Agape Flights has started a ‘2022 Aircraft Replacement Fund. More information can be found on the nonprofit’s website.
A social media post notes that online credit card donations in the range of $25 to $100 made during the online Giving Challenge, April 26–27 at https://www.agapeflights.com/giving-challenge/ can be used to purchase a replacement plane as well.
According to the Associated Press, Haitians took to the streets Tuesday to protest rising insecurity. The demonstrations in Les Cayes turned violent. At least one person died and five others were injured, including four police officers, in the confrontation between protesters and authorities in Les Cayes, said Gedeon Chery, a National Police inspector assigned to the city’s airport.
Chery told The Associated Press the person killed was a protester who was shot, but he didn’t say whether police were responsible.
The protests coincided with the 35th anniversary of Haiti’s 1987 Constitution and followed other protests and strikes in recent weeks amid a spike in gang-related kidnappings and complaints about Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s inability to confront gangs.
Violence has increased over the past year despite the prime minister’s pledges to crack down on insecurity.
Kidnappings in Haiti increased 180% in 2021, with 655 of them reported to police, according to mid-February report by the UN Security Council. Authorities believe the number could be higher since many kidnappings go unreported.
Along with violence, Haiti has also been dealing with the ongoing sluggish investigation of President Jovenel Moïse’s killing last July 7, and a magnitude-7.2 earthquake that killed over 2,200 people in the country’s south last August.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.