As Ethiopia violence worsens under Abiy Ahmed, popular singer The Weeknd donates $1 million toward relief efforts

As violence continues to intensify under Abiy Ahmed’s leadership, Canada-born singer The Weeknd has used his platform to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis metastasizing in Ethiopia.

abiy ahmed 
Abiy Ahmed

On Sunday, the three-time Grammy award winning artiste and chart-topping superstar announced that he would be donating $1 million toward relief efforts.

The son of Ethiopian immigrants who was born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye said his heart “breaks” over the catastrophe unfolding in Ethiopia.

“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 star said on Instagram and Twitter Sunday.

The military offensive in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, which began in early November, has ravaged northern Ethiopia, causing thousands of deaths and the displacements of over 2 million people.

“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,” the World Food Programme says on its donation website.

The Ethiopian government estimated that some 4.5 million people are in need of  “life-saving” assistance through late this year, the UN reported.

“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,” said The Weeknd Sunday.

As the ongoing violence and the Ethiopian government’s wrongdoings in Tigray continue to come to light, people like The Weeknd are instrumental in shedding light on the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia.

Not only can his sizeable donation be used to support those in need but also the use of The Weeknd’s platform to bring awareness to the crisis signals the importance of including the conflict in popular discourse so that Abiy Ahmed and the Ethiopian government can no longer continue to operate in the dark, unaccountable to the world.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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