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SAFETY INSTITUTE LAUNCHES GLOBAL HOSTAGE CRISIS HELP CENTRE

With a shocking 72 media workers kidnapped in 2007 - 16 of whom were murdered, the International News Safety Institute (INSI) has set up a global hostage crisis help centre for journalists and news organisations that have had a colleague or staff member kidnapped or held hostage because of their work.

"More journalists than ever are being kidnapped, drawing more news organisations and families into nightmare scenarios," says INSI. "This service, backed by people who have been there, will provide some basic advice and guidance on what best to do."

The service acts as a first point of contact and informal helpline, putting those who need advice and guidance in touch with appropriate security experts, news organisations and/or individuals who have been through the experience themselves - like Alan Johnston of the BBC, who was held hostage in Gaza for 114 days last year.

When an incident happens, those in need are invited to call the nearest INSI regional coordinator or the INSI head office in Brussels (+32 2 235 22 01). INSI would then contact a participating news organisation, security expert or journalist and put the parties in touch with one another.

INSI is supported by the BBC, CNN, NBC, AP Television, Al Jazeera, TV Globo in Brazil, security companies AKE, Security Exchange and Praedict, journalist support organisations The Rory Peck Trust and the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma, as well as individual journalists who faced hostage situations themselves.

For INSI's kidnap-hostage guidelines, see: http://www.newssafety.com/stories/insi/hostagesguidelines.pdf

For more on the centre, visit: http://www.newssafety.com/stories/insi/hostagegroup.htm

(22 January 2008)

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