Haiti's earthquake recovery marred by rise in kidnappings

The Miami HeraldSeptember 1, 2010 

A trio of gunmen stormed a gated home in the well-to-do Pelerin neighborhood, shot dead a Sunrise man and kidnapped a 16-year-old relative. Gregoire-Ronald Chery, 56, died of a single shot to the head. Nadege Charlot, his cousin, continued to be held Tuesday as kidnappers demanded a $100,000 ransom.

Nadege's abduction on Friday was the latest in a string of kidnappings in the hillside neighborhoods above Port-au-Prince, and it is raising fears that more could follow this election season.

Almost eight months after the Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 people, crime trends show an increase in kidnappings compared to this time last year. U.N. police have documented 68 abductions so far this year, compared to 51 a year ago.

The winner of the Nov. 28 presidential election will be faced with the task of sheltering 1.5 million people made homeless by the January earthquake and removing 20 million cubic meters of rubble -- and reducing the growing numbers of kidnappings.

A recent U.S. travel advisory noted that bandits have attacked travelers leaving the Port-au-Prince international airport, and that at least two U.S. citizens were killed in recent months. Five have been kidnapped.

Even relief workers have been targeted. In March, bandits abducted -- and released -- two staff members of Doctors Without Borders in Port-au-Prince. Two months later, kidnappers grabbed a British national from the Pan-American Development Foundation and his Haitian driver. The Brit was released. The driver was killed.

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