Russian Federation: UN agency seeks urgent funds to feed thousands of Chechens

26 January 2006

With the Russian federation facing its coldest winter in over 25 years, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for urgently needed funds to resume food rations for thousands of people in Chechnya and Ingushetia.

Two months ago, a lack of funding forced WFP to stop assisting 150,000 people in the region – some of the poorest and most vulnerable Chechens – and so far it has received only 12 per cent of the $22 million needed for its current, one-year operation.

“It is terrible that impoverished people who have already faced years of suffering now face dangerously cold temperatures with no food. They desperately need our help, and they need it now more than ever,” said Chris Czerwinski, WFP’s Senior Emergency Coordinator in the Russian Federation.

WFP said its current operation, scheduled to provide 36,368 tons of food commodities to a total of 250,000 people, was experiencing considerable shortages of basic necessities like wheat flour, oil, oats, millet and salt.

The internal conflict in Chechnya, which started in September 1999, caused thousands of people to flee into neighbouring regions and the “continuing precarious security situation” has prevented most of the refugees from returning home, the agency said. Some 37,000 displaced Chechens have managed to make it back since 2004, but are now living in dire conditions and struggling to survive amidst the devastation.

WFP normally provides food for one third of the population of Chechnya, including 120,000 of the republic’s most vulnerable population, 26,500 in neighbouring Ingushetia and 131,000 primary and secondary school children in 409 educational institutions scattered across 14 Chechen districts.

Funding of $2.4 million from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Department, has allowed the agency to continue its Food-for-Education programme for 131,000 primary school children.

 

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