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AP team delivers sweeping all-formats coverage of missionaries’ kidnapping in Haiti

Children stand in the courtyard of the Maison La Providence de Dieu orphanage it Ganthier, Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti, Oct. 17, 2021, where a gang abducted 17 missionaries — 12 adults and five children — of U.S.-based Christian Aid Ministries. The 400 Mawozo gang, notorious for brazen kidnappings and killings took the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian after a visit to the orphanage. (AP Photo / Joseph Odelyn)

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When a notorious gang kidnapped 17 U.S.-based missionaries in Haiti nearly two weeks ago, AP’s team in the region sprang into action, drawing on their deep knowledge of the country’s ongoing chaos and violence to file a steady stream of breaking news and distinctive enterprise across formats on the unfolding situation.

Stringers Joseph Odelyn and Pierre Luxama provided some of the first photos and video from the orphanage the missionaries had visited before disappearing. Meanwhile, Dánica Coto, AP’s Caribbean correspondent in Puerto Rico, worked with local text stringer Evens Sanon and colleagues in the U.S. to rapidly file text stories for AP’s international audience, explaining that such lawlessness has become commonplace in the country.

In the following days,the AP’s coverage included live video of demonstrations calling for more security,aerial images of the route where the missionaries were abducted from Venezuela-based photographer Matías Delacroix and a video explainer on the ongoing instability in the country,which has been struggling with a spike in gang-related kidnappings.

The AP was also the first to source a video message from Wilson Joseph,leader of the 400 Mawozo gang behind the kidnapping, saying he would kill the missionaries if he didn’t get the $1 million per-person ransom he had demanded earlier. The gang — whose name translates to 400 “inexperienced men” — was also blamed for abducting five priests and two nuns earlier this year.

AP’s coverage also gave insight into the harrowing experience of family members of kidnapping victims through an exclusive interview with a Haitian woman whose father was abducted in late September. “When they called,they would say very harsh,cruel (things): ‘You don’t want your husband anymore? We don’t mind,we can kill him and you can pick him up from a pile of trash,’” said Doris Michel,who called on the U.S. government to act on Haiti’s worsening situation.

For their tireless work in demonstrating AP’s speed,global reach and depth across formats in covering one of Haiti’s largest recent kidnappings,the Haiti/Caribbean team of Pierre Luxama,Dánica Coto,Matias Delacroix, Joseph Odelyn and Evens Sanon is AP’s Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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