AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson

Priest who takes calls from migrants in distress nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Mon 05 Oct 2015
By Hannah Tooley

A priest in Switzerland, who organises help for migrants who get into trouble whilst crossing the Mediterranean, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Fr Mussie Zerai, who's originally from Eritrea, gave out his phone number on an African radio station so people crossing the water who get into trouble can call him and he can alert the coastguard.

The 40-year-old left for Europe when he was 16 years old.

Speaking in The Daily Telegraph Fr Mussie said that he met the Pope at an anti-human trafficking event: "He told me 'Have courage, Father, keep going.' " 

Father Mussie Zerai

Father Mussie Zerai

He began using the mobile phone as an aid in 2003 when he handed his number to a journalist documenting the plight of migrants and refugees crossing into to Europe.

It has also been reported that his number has been written on the wall of a Libyan prison.

The Catholic priest's number is now across a number of detention centres and refugee camps in north Africa. 
Speaking to Premier in August, he said: "Sometimes yes, I receive some distress call during the Mass. I say to the people I need to answer because it is an emergency.

"So I stop my Mass, I give answer; that is because we're talking about human being's life."

Fr Mussie says he has had calls from as far as Indonesia and Yemen.

He says he hopes that by being nominated he has given refugees and migrants a voice in an international community which has been ignoring the crisis, however he says he does not expect to win.

He will be up against Pope Francis, who has also been nominated for the prize for his focus on social justice and the environment.

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