The Weeknd to donate $1 million to Ethiopian relief efforts: 'My heart breaks for my people of Ethiopia'

The Canadian musician says his donation will provide two million meals through the UN World Food Programme

The Weeknd is the son of Ethiopian immigrants Makkonen and Samra Tesfaye. Getty 
The Weeknd is the son of Ethiopian immigrants Makkonen and Samra Tesfaye. Getty 

Canadian singer-songwriter The Weeknd will donate $1 million to Ethiopian relief efforts through the UN World Food Programme, amid an ongoing conflict in the country.

The Starboy performer, born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, is the son of 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," he wrote on his Instagram and Twitter accounts.

"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 donation was made following five months of violence in the east African country, amid an ongoing conflict between the government and the Tigray region, which is believed to have resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. Reports of the number of people displaced range from the tens of thousands to more than a million.

This is not the first time The Weeknd has publicly donated to a cause.

In 2014, he donated $50,000 to the University of Toronto to start a Ge'ez language course, the classic language of Ethiopia. At the time, he said he "was proud to support his home town by sharing the brilliant, ancient history of Ethiopia".

In August 2020, he donated $300,000 to Lebanon after the deadly explosion at Beirut Port that devastated the capital city. The donation was announced by the singer’s Lebanese-Canadian manager Wassim "Sal" Slaiby.

The singer has also been a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter, donating $250,000 to the movement in August 2016. In May last year, after the death of George Floyd, The Weeknd contributed a further $500,000 towards the cause by supporting Colin Kaepernick's Know Your Rights Camp and the National Bail Out, as well as Black Lives Matter.

Updated: April 6, 2021 10:31 AM

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