In response to requests from Russian doctors, the World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday begun an initial one-week food distribution to three hospitals in Beslan and the North Ossetian regional capital of Vladikavkaz, where many victims were taken. “What happened in Beslan is a terrible tragedy. WFP is determined to do all it can to alleviate the suffering of the victims,” WFP Country Director Chris Czerwinski said today. WFP’s ability to respond quickly to the crisis was partly due to the agency’s existing capacity in the north Caucasus region of southern Russia, where it has been providing emergency assistance since January 2000 to 290,000 people affected by the conflict in and around Chechnya. The WFP relief packages include sugar, flour, rice, yoghurt, milk, pasta, condensed milk, dried fruits and jam. For its part the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has sent 12 tons of medical and other supplies, including bandages, syringes, bed linens, mattresses, hospital beds and catheters to treat the hundreds of children injured in the school siege.