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The Weeknd says he is donating $1 million toward Ethiopian relief efforts

Grammy award-winning artist The Weeknd is stepping up to help Ethiopians amid violence in the country.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, on Sunday said that he will donate $1 million to Ethiopian relief efforts through the UN World Food Programme.

Thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed, raped and abused during the course of Ethiopia’s five-month-old conflict.

A recent CNN investigation found that men wearing Ethiopian army uniforms executed unarmed men in Tigray. A BBC-led investigation also published Thursday corroborated the same massacre near Mahibere Dego, a mountainous area of central Tigray.

On Friday, Ethiopia’s government dismissed evidence of these claims.

“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 Weeknd, whose parents are from Ethiopia, said 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 violence in Ethiopia has gone on since November, when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ordered attacks on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) after Ahmed alleged that TPLF had attacked a federal military base.

The UN announced on March 25 that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission would launch a joint investigation into possible crimes.

The UN World Food Programme stated that the “outbreak of conflict coincided with (Ethiopia’s) peak harvest season, meaning employment and incomes were lost, markets were disrupted, food prices rose, and access to cash and fuel became very difficult.” The Ethiopian government estimated that 4.5 million people need “life-saving” assistance through late this year, the UN reported.

This isn’t the first time The Weeknd has contributed to a cause.

The singer donated $300,000 to the global Aid for Lebanon campaign last August to help victims of an explosion in Beirut that killed over 200 people, his manager announced on social media.

Following George Floyd’s killing last May, The Weeknd also donated $500,000 to racial justice groups: the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp and the National Bail Out Collective.

He also partnered with TikTok in an August 7 livestream that raised over $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative through selling limited merchandise.

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