USAID Administrator Power Held Urgent Meetings on Famine and Atrocities in Tigray, Ethiopia, including Ministerial Convening with Nine Countries and Conversation with The Weeknd, And Announced $181 Million in New USAID Assistance

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim


For Immediate Release

Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Office of Press Relations

The below is attributable to Acting Spokesperson Pooja Jhunjhunwala:‎

On June 9, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power held a day-long series of high-level meetings on the humanitarian catastrophe in Tigray, Ethiopia, convening humanitarian partners, diplomats, aid workers, donor countries, and U.S. Government officials for urgent discussions on fighting famine and ending ongoing atrocities, including widespread and systematic sexual violence. Administrator Power also announced more than $181 million in additional USAID humanitarian assistance to help Ethiopians affected by this spiraling crisis, and met with Ethiopian-Canadian recording artist The Weeknd to discuss raising global awareness about the scale of the need facing those impacted by the conflict.

Administrator Power initiated this day of action by meeting with Agency leadership responsible for USAID’s humanitarian response in Tigray, where USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team has been deployed since March. She received updates from the ground and discussed the Agency’s next steps for scaling-up humanitarian efforts. There are more people facing famine conditions in Tigray than anywhere else in the world; of the six million people in Tigray, some 5.2 million are in desperate need of food assistance. Yet the Ethiopian Government, Eritrean forces, and Amhara militia groups are blocking critically-needed relief from reaching people.

Administrator Power also convened a high-level group of donor countries—including Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, Finland, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom—to discuss immediate next steps for assisting those in need. Additionally, the donor countries agreed to join together in calling on the Government of Ethiopia and all parties involved to end hostilities, provide access to critical aid, stop the spread of famine, and ensure the protection of civilians by adhering to international humanitarian law. In these discussions, Administrator Power and Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman reiterated the U.S. Government’s strong condemnation of human rights violations, horrific and widespread acts of gender-based violence, and harassment and violence directed at aid workers.

To discuss ways of generating public pressure and action that can directly help Ethiopian civilians, Administrator Power met virtually with recording artist Abel Tesfaye (known professionally as The Weeknd). Tesfaye, who is the son of Ethiopian immigrants to Canada, donated $1 million in April to assist Ethiopians impacted by the conflict. USAID representatives leading the Agency’s on-the-ground response briefed Tesfaye on the latest developments, and Administrator Power and Tesfaye discussed how to most effectively raise awareness about the dire situation. Administrator Power also commended Tesfaye, one of the world’s most popular musicians, for his generosity and commitment to speaking up for civilians in desperate need of help.

Administrator Power also heard directly from USAID’s Ethiopia-based humanitarian partners CARE, Catholic Relief Services, GOAL, the International Rescue Committee, Samaritan’s Purse, Save the Children, and the World Food Programme about their critical efforts to help people affected by the conflict. Administrator Power reaffirmed USAID’s commitment to supporting these partners as they respond to the growing needs in Tigray, emphasizing the critical importance of working together to help prevent a widespread famine. She also underscored that the Biden Administration will continue to push the Ethiopian Government for unhindered humanitarian access so aid workers can safely do their jobs.

In addition, Administrator Power spoke with African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat to discuss the urgency of the situation in Tigray and how best to address it.

Demonstrating America’s steadfast commitment to helping the people of Ethiopia, Administrator Power announced today more than $181 million in new USAID humanitarian assistance to help those affected by the crisis. This funding will address life-threatening hunger and acute malnutrition, including providing nearly 100,000 metric tons of food—enough to feed three million people for nearly two months. USAID is also providing water, medical care, shelter, and seeds, tools, and fertilizer for farmers to replant crops that were intentionally destroyed. In addition, USAID is supporting programs to protect the most vulnerable—including safe spaces and psychosocial support for women and girls, case management for survivors of gender-based violence, training for social workers and community case workers, and programs to reunite children separated from their families. The United States is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia, contributing nearly $487 million since the crisis began.

Ending this conflict requires a political solution and the will of Ethiopian leaders to stop the indiscriminate violence that is killing innocent Ethiopians. The Government of Ethiopia can do more than any other actor to end the suffering of its own people, and it must act now.

For the latest updates on U.S. humanitarian assistance for the Tigray response, visit: Ethiopia | Humanitarian Assistance | US Agency for International Development.

Last updated: October 20, 2022

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