The Weeknd is assisting in a crisis taking place in the East African country of Ethiopia.
The Grammy award winner revealed on his Instagram page over the weekend that he had partnered with the World Food Program U.S. to donate a massive $1 million to hunger relief efforts amid the ongoing conflict between the government in Addis Ababa and rebels in the Tigray region. The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, is the son of two Ethiopian immigrants, Makkonen and Samra Tesfaye.
“My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are being displaced out of fear and destruction,” the Toronto-born singer wrote in a lengthy post on Sunday April 4. “I will be donating $1 million to provide 2 million meals through the United Nations World Food Programme and encourage those who can to please give as well.”
The singer provided a link on his profile page where folks could get more information and possibly donate to the cause. WFP, which has been fighting hunger for over seven decades, wrote a statement that read, “The outbreak of conflict in Tigray last November coincided with the peak harvest period, leading to lost employment and incomes, disrupted markets, a rise in food prices, and limited access to cash and fuel.” It added, “The U.N. World Food Programme is aiming to support 1.4 million of these vulnerable people before it’s too late.”
The Weeknd’s post garnered over 1 million likes from fans and supporters who applauded the “Starboy” singer for his philanthropic efforts, including one user who wrote, “thank you for using your platform for good.” They added, “This is a very important topic more celebs need to talk about 🤍🙌🏼.”
Another person commented, “YOU’RE A LEGEND ABEL… donating a Million is huge af… Plsss y’alll let’s pay some RESPECT for this mannn🙏❤️❤️❤️.”
“The weekend out here doing what most billionaires and CEO’s of multimillion dollar companies would turn a blind eye to. Respect man, we love you ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️,” a third expressed.
A fourth wrote, “True King using his platform for good. We need people like you. Prayers for all the innocent Ethiopians and may our part help as much as they need it. 🙏🏻❤️.”
“You’re a true king brother… the situation is so heartbreaking and thank you for being so proactive and inspirational,” said a fifth.
BBC reported that tensions began to rise in November 2020 after the Tigray’s People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) captured military bases in the northern Ethiopian region. The TPLF had been the ruling party in the semi-autonomous area, but had a falling-out with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over his efforts to increase the power of the central government and rein in the TPLF and the Tigrayans, the ethnic group that was now politically sidelined after decades of ruling the nation. Shortly after the bases were captured, Abiy called upon the military to oust the insurgents.
The New York Times also revealed that an internal U.S. government report stated that Ethiopian officials and allied militia fighters were “leading a systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing” in the Tigray region. It also said that authorities were “deliberately and efficiently rendering Western Tigray ethnically homogeneous through the organized use of force and intimidation,” adding, “whole villages were severely damaged or completely erased.” As a result, thousands of residents have been killed, and tens of thousands have been displaced since the beginning of the conflict.
President Biden and other Western leaders have met to discuss what could be done for the country, however all have been hesitant to call out Abiy’s conduct in the conflict.