The Weeknd Named U.N. Goodwill Ambassador - Rolling Stone
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The Weeknd on U.N. Goodwill Ambassadorship: ‘We Need to Save Lives for All People’

“Because people are dying and that is what I care about,” Abel Tesfaye says of role with World Food Programme

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Getty Images for U.N. World Food

The Weeknd was named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations’ World Food Programme at a ceremony Thursday in Los Angeles. The honor comes six months after Abel Tesfaye, the Toronto-raised son of Ethiopian immigrants, donated $1 million to relief efforts in Ethiopia during the conflict between the nation’s government and the Tigray region.

“This is such a profound honor because it’s about getting the opportunity to help an entire country and tens of millions of people around the world who are suffering from extreme hunger,” Tesfaye said in a statement to Rolling Stone. 

“Regardless of political lines and regions we need to save lives for all people, regardless of where they live or who they are. Because people are dying and that is what I care about. It’s about helping every single citizen of Ethiopia who needs it, as well as people around the globe who rely on food assistance to stay alive, and I intend to do my best within the UN World Food Programme to do exactly this.”

The United Nations World Food Programme, the world’s largest humanitarian organization, provides lifesaving food assistance to over 100 million people in more than 80 countries each year.

“The U.N. World Food Programme is doing urgent and important work to change and save lives on a daily basis and I feel passionately about addressing world hunger and helping people in need,” Tesfaye added. “Our partnership is an authentic extension of all our efforts and intentions to help those in need and bring an end to so much suffering,”

“We are thrilled to welcome The Weeknd to the WFP family. His compassion and commitment to helping the world’s hungriest people is truly inspirational,” said United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley said in a statement. “Every night, 811 million people go to bed hungry, and another 270 million are marching toward starvation. This is just not right and we have got to speak out and act today to save lives. We need everyone to come join our movement to end hunger – it is all hands on deck to avoid a global catastrophe.”

In the past two years alone, Tesfaye has donated $3 million to a variety of causes, including in June 2020, when he provided $1 million in Covid-19 relief, with $500,000 going to MusiCares and $500,000 to an Ontario, Canada hospital. Two months later, Tesfaye also gave $300,000 to a fund helping those impacted by the devastating explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.

“Whether he is performing or speaking out about global hunger, The Weeknd’s voice is powerful and inspiring, only matched by his dedication to helping people around the globe,” World Food Program USA President and CEO Barron Segar added. “We are honored that he has joined our mission. He will undoubtedly inspire the next generation of humanitarians in the fight to ensure no man, woman, or child goes to bed hungry.”

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