(Bloomberg) -- Haiti registered 225 kidnappings during the first quarter of 2022, representing a 58% jump from the same period a year ago, as the Caribbean nation struggles to tame gang violence amid deep political turmoil, according to tabulations from a local human rights group.
In a report released Wednesday, the Center for Analysis and Research in Human Rights, a Haitian think-tank, said anecdotal evidence also showed that ransom demands are increasing and hostages are spending more time in captivity versus last year.
For the full year of 2021, the group put the number of kidnappings nationwide at 1,032 and warned that this year could break that mark, particularly if millions in international security aid, which has been pledged, doesn’t materialize. It also noted that kidnappings tend to spike near year’s end.
The report found the primary targets of kidnappers were doctors, lawyers and professionals, followed by public officials, students and police.
On Tuesday, thousands took to the streets of the capital of Port-au-Prince to protest kidnappings and crime in general.
Haiti’s kidnapping crisis drew global attention last year when 16 U.S. citizens -- including five children -- were held for two months by the 400 Mawozo gang.
The nation has been in turmoil since the murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise last July. Since then, Prime Minister Ariel Henry has repeatedly vowed to crack down on gang violence that he’s blamed for delaying long-overdue general elections.
Read more: Haiti Leader Rejects Calls to Step Down, Says Elections Priority
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