The world’s journalists haven’t been allowed into Tigray, a large region in the north of Ethiopia, in years. Most of the world wouldn’t recognize the name. But the area has been under siege by Ethiopia’s military. There have been reports that since a spat of fighting in November between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front and the military under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, no farming or imports of food have been allowed, stores have been destroyed, and access to water and medical supplies has been denied.
In March, a graphic video surfaced. While the contents are officially unverified, many have identified the area as Mahibere Dego, a town in the mountainous heart of Tigray. In the video, armed soldiers round up a large group of young unarmed men on a rocky ledge, execute them with gunfire, and then fling them off the hillside. The soldiers can be heard laughing at their grim duty and cheering each other on. It is just one of several reported massacres in the area, though verification is rare.
Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, the Canadian songwriter, record producer, and son of Ethiopian parents–known most widely as The Weeknd– announced on Sunday, April 4, that he would be donating $1 million toward relief efforts for the Tigray region.
“My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia,” he posted on Instagram, “as innocent civilians ranging from small children to the elderly are being senselessly murdered and entire villages are displaced out of fear and destruction. 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 Weeknd is no stranger to philanthropy. Since March 2020, he has also donated $1 million to COVID-19 relief, $500,000 to Black Lives Matter, and $300,000 to Global Aid for Lebanon after the explosion in Beirut.
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