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The Weeknd Donates $1 Million to Ethiopia

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.

Editorial credit: Phil Pasquini / Shutterstock.com

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News

Ethiopia Faces Massive Drought, Needs Assistance

According to Save the Children, Ethiopia is on the verge of the worse drought in 50 years, and the response hasn’t been big enough to handle the issue. They are expecting around 350,000 newborns during the next six months, when the “hunger season” reaches its peak. Those extra mouths will be hard to feed in the large portions of the country struggling to get by, where rain failures will be preventing the growth of much of anything on rain-fed farms.

According to the charity, this is a “code red emergency,” and should be treated as such. Unfortunately, neither the United Nations nor the international community in general seems to be taking it seriously. Response to the drought has been minimal, and he charity is concerned for Ethiopia’s ability to cope.

The drought is due to El Niño, which began last year and causes extreme weather conditions around the world. In this case, it’s resulting in a severe reduction of rain in the east African country, which has left 10.1 million people in need of aid.

Save the Children is currently working in over 60 of the most affected areas of the country, helping to provide food, water, and medicine to people in need, especially those who have lost their incomes due to the drought. They think they’d need about $1.4 billion in order to fight the effects of the drought, something they don’t expect to get.

Hopefully, the African Union Summit held in Addis Ababa, and at which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is set to address African leaders, will provide an opportunity to make the case for greater involvement of both the United Nations and the international community. That summit is running from January 21st to January 31st, so the charity and Ethiopian leaders should have a chance to get the word out.