LEADING FIGURES – A voice from the sea. Exclusive interview with Father Mussie Zerai

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An Eritrean priest who helps migrants in North Africa reach safe ground. Father Mussie Zerai, before being ordained a priest, was himself a migrant. Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and included among Time’s most influential figures in the world, he tells his story and how he too crossed the sea.

A man to turn to in times of need, but also an authoritative voice on migration, Father Mussie Zerai, or simply Father Mosé, represents much more than just a telephone number to call in a moment of desperation. He is a fundamental bridge in the dialogue between the poverty in the Horn of Africa and the debate on European policy on migration flows. A critic of the bilateral agreements, Father Mussie Zerai is especially known for being a “human call centre”: his telephone number can be found in migrants’ cell phones, written on the walls of detention centres in Libya, in oases in the desert and on the T-shirts of those facing a voyage into the unknown. Those in difficulty call him, knowing that they will find an ally on the other end of the line. Father Zerai always answers. He too left Eritrea in 1992 for a better future in Italy.

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