Mussie Zerai was once a refugee.
Now the 40-year-old Roman Catholic priest from Eritrea, helps migrants trapped in the North African deserts and rickety wooden boats drifting across the Mediterranean Sea.
“It is my duty and moral obligation as a priest to help these people,” Zerai said in a telephone interview. “For me it’s simple: Jesus said we must love one another as we love ourselves.”
The little-known priest, now based in Rome and Switzerland, was among this year’s nominees for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Pope Francis. (The prize, announced Friday, was awarded to the National Dialogue Quartet, which helped build a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia.)
Zerai runs a center that receives calls from distressed migrants who have fled their countries in hopes of finding a better life in Europe. He relays refugees’ GPS coordinates to coast guard and naval authorities so they can launch rescue operations.