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Southeast Asia

President Elect Pirkko Lahti, Executive Director of the Finnish Mental

Health Association,. went to New York in early June as a member of the

Finnish Government’s delegation attending the Beijing Plus Five General

Assembly Session at the United Nations. From there she flew to the

Philippines, following an unexpected request from her government to join

medical personnel ready to provide assistance to hostages from several

countries, including two from Finland, held by the Abu Sayyaf guerrilla

group. The hostages had been kidnapped in April from a Malaysian diving

resort and taken to a remote area in the southern Philippines. She waited

on Jolo island with French and German doctors willing to enter the hostage

camp if permitted to do so in order to provide medical and psychological

assistance for the captives. She returned to Finland after nearly three

weeks of unsuccessful negotiations. Many of the hostages, including the two

Finns, were released in September.

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