- 13 Apr 22
Watch U2's acoustic rendition of 'Walk On' below.
Following the success of their #StandUpForUkraine social media rally – which featured some of the biggest names in international music, including U2 – Global Citizen have announced that they have helped secure $10.1 billion (or €9.1 billion) in pledges "to aid refugees and displaced people in Ukraine and around the world."
"The $4.6 billion (4.1 billion euros) in grants and $5.5 billion (5 billion euros) in loans will support refugee efforts in Ukraine in providing accommodation and economic security, as well as support for grassroots organisations and UN agencies working with refugees and internally displaced people," Global Citizen announced on their website.
"The use of these funds should not undermine other crucial development and humanitarian priorities and pit vulnerable people against each other," they continued. "Efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine cannot be at the expense of vulnerable populations around the world."
The pledging event took place in Warsaw, Poland on Saturday, and was hosted by Global Citizen in partnership with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The event followed the #StandUpForUkraine global social media rally the day before, in which artists, entertainers and activists used their platforms to call on world leaders to pledge their support for "those forcibly displaced in Ukraine and globally."
As part of the campaign, U2 shared a video Bono and The Edge performing an acoustic version 'Walk On'.
"The brave people of Ukraine are fighting for their freedom – and for ours – in the face of unspeakable violence and an unjust invasion," the Irish band wrote in an accompanying statement on social media. "More than 4 million people, mostly women and children, have had to flee for their lives -- a population nearly the size of Ireland. World leaders must stand up and stand by Ukranians now ... those who are fighting and those who have fled ... and stand with refugees everywhere who have been forced from their homes and their lands. #StandUpForUkraine"
'Walk On' originally featured on U2's tenth studio album, All That You Can't Leave Behind (2000), and won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 2002.
As one U2 observer told Hot Press, the new rendition "is a very good way of U2 reclaiming the song, which was originally written in tribute to Aung San Suu Kyi."
"Aung San Suu Kyi was chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma – and had been placed under house arrest since 1989, the year that the country’s name was officially changed from Burma to Myanmar," they resume. "Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in 2010 and went on to become the State Counsellor – which is the equivalent of Prime Minister – as well as the Minister for Finance in 2016. However, her legacy has been badly damaged by her apparent acquiescence in the genocide of the Rohingya people in Rakhine State, in Myanamar.
“Those horrific events saw her being brought before the International Court of Justice, who concluded that the Burmese government had not done enough to protect the Rohingya. But there was more for those who had seen her a champion of human rights to contend with, including the arrest of journalists, and suppression of reporting on what was happening in Rakhine. She was stripped of the Freedom of Dublin and separately of the Freedom of Edinburgh. Her honorary citizenship of Canada was revoked. A request was sent to the committee of the Nobel Peace Prize, but they insisted that there was no mechanism for stripping someone of that honour.
“The truth is that back in 2001, no one could have foreseen this turn of events. There appears to be a deep-seated hatred of Muslims among the ruling class in Myanmar – and while she had initially seemed like a powerful antidote to the military dictatorship which had controlled Myanmar, in the end, she had neither the conviction nor the bravery to stand up for a persecuted minority. She won the election in 2020 but was arrested in a Coup d’état and sentenced to a total of eight years on what are generally understood to be trumped up charges.
“Now, by placing the song in the context of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, U2 have potentially freed it from the unfortunate, if entirely unpredictable legacy."
Watch U2's version of 'Walk On' for the #StandUpForUkraine campaign below: