Mussie Zerai

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Father Mussie Zerai at a talk organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, 2013

Mussie Zerai, also known as Abba Mussie Zerai, Moses Zerai and Father Moses, (born 1975), is a Roman Catholic priest known for his work with migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe during the European migrant crisis.


Born in Asmara, Zerai grew up with his grandmother and seven siblings after his mother died when he was five and his father who at one point was arrested by the Secret Police fled the country to Italy. Aged fourteen, Zerai traveled to Rome where he applied for asylum and with the aid of a British priest, obtained a residence permit.[1][2]

His first years in Italy were spent doing a number of jobs including sorting newspapers and working on a fruit stand, while helping his priest as a translator and assistant, especially supporting immigrants to obtain identification, residency permits, health cards, pensions, and tax registration.

Then for three years he studied with the Scalabrinian Missionaries in Piacenza, returning to Rome in 2003 to work for the organization there.

In 2006, Zerai co-founded Agenzia Habeshia, an organization which works to pursue the interest of asylum seekers and refugees.[2]

He was ordained a priest in 2010.[2]

Since 2012, Zerai has lived in Switzerland where he is a priest for the Eritrean and Ethiopian communities. He was first placed in Fribourg and later in Erlinsbach.[2]

The Peace Research Institute Oslo nominated Zerai for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.[2]


  1. ^ Mattathias Schwartz (21 April 2014) The Anchor The New Yorker
  2. ^ a b c d e Luigi Jorio (28 April 2015) ‘Migrants are not adventurers or tourists’ Retrieved 6 October 2015