Responding to ongoing turmoil in the Caucuses, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced plans to renew its emergency food assistance drive for internally displaced and economically vulnerable people in Chechnya and the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia.The new $16-million operation will provide 34,000 tons of food commodities to over 290,000 people during 2003, building on WFP’s emergency food programme for Chechens which began in January, 2000. To date, the agency has provided a total of $43 million worth of food assistance to the region.“With the continuing insecurity in the area, the food aid is the only certainty in the lives of these people,” said Saeed Malik, Director for WFP’s Regional Bureau for Eastern Europe.The scene of internal conflict since December 1999, Chechnya has witnessed large-scale displacement. About one in every ten Chechens – 110,000 out of a total population of nearly 1 million – has fled to nearby Ingushetia. In addition, over 160,000 people are displaced within Chechnya itself. Poverty is compounding problems caused by displacement. A recent WFP survey found that over 40 per cent of the population in Chechnya lives below the poverty line.In September, WFP doubled its school-feeding programme in Chechnya, and currently, the agency’s hot lunches reach 47,000 students in 165 schools located in the most conflict-torn districts in the republic.