The United Nations emergency food relief agency announced today that it will double the capacity of a hot lunch programme feeding more than 20,000 children in war-torn Chechnya later this year.
Despite the ongoing conflict, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it will increase the size of its operation in September to feed some 45,500 primary and kindergarten students in 165 schools, in Grozny, Grozny Rural, Achkhoy-Martan, Sunzha and Gudermes districts.
"The conflict in Chechnya has seriously affected the educational sector. Daily life has been tragically disrupted. The hot lunches are an incentive for parents to send their children to school and for the community to repair the schools," WFP's Senior Emergency Coordinator for the Russian Federation, Bhim Udas, explained.
"The number of children attending school has grown since WFP started the programme," he added. Following the outbreak of war in the breakaway Russian republic in 1999, schools were closed and many were completely destroyed in the fighting. They re-opened last year, with some classes held in tents.