According to WFP, the Africa Hunger Alert is in reaction to “spontaneous grass-roots initiatives originating among student communities in the United States and Canada and that now stretch from Europe to Hong Kong.” The students and community groups have committed themselves to helping generate an international response to the catastrophic conditions in Africa caused primarily by shifting weather patterns, political instability, failed economic policies, and HIV/AIDS, WFP said in a the statement issued from its Rome headquarters. “By announcing the ‘Africa Hunger Alert’ campaign, WFP is signalling its commitment to link up with ordinary citizens to alert the international community to the enormity of the crisis faced by millions of innocent men, women and children who run the very real risk of death by starvation,” WFP Executive Director James T. Morris said. He appealed to governments, private charities, non-governmental organizations, citizens’ groups “and everyone who cares about fundamental human decency to join this campaign,” adding that “the scope and depth of the crisis is unprecedented and require an unprecedented and urgent response.” The hunger crisis in Africa has grown particularly acute in the wake of two major emergencies this year – in the southern part of the continent and in the Horn of Africa, WFP said. Nearly 15 million people in six countries – Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique –are threatened by starvation while an additional 11 to 15 million are at risk in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Mr. Morris said without a massive response, the humanitarian community will not be able to counter these looming disasters. The new campaign, which is open to all interested organizations, will be launched on 16 December and run for at least three months. The UN agency said it will provide support, including a special page on its website, where information about the crisis and the initiative will be posted to lobby governments.