Don Mussie Zerai, founder and president of the agency Habeshia, is among the candidates for the Nobel Prize for Peace. His name was proposed by Kristian Berg Harpiken, director of international research Oslo peace, for the work that takes place for years, right through Habeshia, in defense of the rights and lives of asylum seekers and migrants fleeing war, dictatorship, terrorism, persecution, hunger and misery.
It 'just the first step towards the prestigious award, which will be awarded in the month of December. The same Harpiken throws water on the fire: "Often the first names circulating are burned and almost never the forecasts are met." But the fact itself that it has received the "nomination" confirms that the activities conducted by Don Zerai and Habeshia has attracted attention at the highest levels. Although, in truth, more in Europe and the United States than in Italy, even if the agency was founded, has taken the initial steps and continues to operate at the forefront.
The news of the nomination reached Don Zerai in Zurich, where he carries out his pastoral mission to the Eritrean and Ethiopian communities sheltered in Switzerland. Has not decomposed much. It is not his style, anyway. "I enjoy it, of course - he said - but let's stop here ... There are dozens of candidates. Beginning with Pope Francis, who surely many more titles and merits of me. Admitted that I have merits such as to be proposed even for the Nobel. In fact, I just do what I think right. I will just try to implement what the Pope himself has shown since he took office: go to the suburbs and take the side of the last of the earth, to look at problems with their eyes. Nothing more. And if all this is recognized worthy of the Nobel, then I hope that it serves to push the North of the world, the powerful of the earth as Bergoglio Pope says, to break down the walls of Fortress Europe coming to a reception system unique, accepted and shared by all EU Member States, and finally change the policy carried out in the South. Because often it is this policy to force millions of young people to leave their homes. "
He would not say more. The proposed Harpiken, however, does not seem to get to the event, after one year, 2014, in which the tragedy of the refugees exploded dramatic than ever before, with nearly 170 thousand landings in Italy, more than 3,600 deaths in the Mediterranean and an escalation continues that, according to the latest data from UNHCR, has led to 53 million the number of people forced into the world in a 'flight for life' from their country. A massive exodus, never recorded before in history, but that, given the continuing proliferation of crisis situations, marks the culmination not only the beginning of a terrible problem, with which the whole world will have to deal.
The point is right here. Don Zerai is the symbol of this momentous problem. Not by chance is known as "the angel of the refugees." A name that has gained in the international press for everything he has done in recent years, placing themselves without reserve to the service of the victims of a tragedy that, as he often says, is rooted also in prejudice, opportunism, in conformity indifference of millions of men and women who have the good fortune to be born and to live in the "privileged part" of the earth.
Even Don Zerai has a history of refugee. Born in Eritrea, Asmara, is fortuitously expatriate in Italy in 1992, just seventeen, as a political refugee. It 'a story that has never forgotten and that has indeed marked the life since that spring morning that ridestandosi finally free to Rome where he had arrived the night before, he felt a moral obligation to put his experience and his strength in the service of other young people like him. Become an activist for human rights was the natural outcome of this choice, which he later confirmed and strengthened in the years of studies: Philosophy in Piacenza 2000-2003, theology within five years and then social morality at the University Pontifical Urban up to 2010, when he was ordained a priest.
The mission that has taken care has intensified especially right after he took the vows, to coincide with the worsening of the story of refugees due to a series of crises erupted in Africa and the Middle East. E 'was among the first, in those years, from the late summer of 2010, to report the slave trade in the Sinai. It 'a wound still open: hundreds of young people caught in the desert, near the border of Israel, by bands of marauding Bedouins linked to international criminal organizations that claim to every prisoner redemptions rose rapidly from 8-10 thousand to 40-50 thousand dollars and threatening to hand over those who can not pay the market of organs for transplants illegal. His complaints, made through the agency Habeshia, along with those of other humanitarian organizations, have aroused sensation around the world, but the echo is off in a few weeks, without the international community has ever made really load this appears true humanitarian emergency.
Since then there has been a crescendo of horror. The slave trade in the Sinai has decreased but has never ceased. Even after Israel closed its border in 2012 with Egypt, raising an impenetrable barrier of barbed wire and electronic sensors. It 'just changed the criminal strategy: instead of waiting for the migrants in the Sinai, the raiders now luring them with the lure of an expatriate in Europe or even kidnap them directly in the centers of temporary residence scattered between Sudan and Ethiopia. Indeed the Mafia traffickers extended and rooted its tentacles all along the escape routes of migrants, both in transit countries to Europe than in the initial reception: Ethiopia, Egypt, Libya. Sudan, especially, where the bands from the Sinai Bedouin have transferred their operational bases. While the crisis, riots, wars, famines exploded from 2010 to today, continue to produce refugees and asylum seekers and, therefore, "human material" to be exploited by traffickers to death.
Don Zerai has become a reference point for the victims of all this: first in Rome, where he exercised the initial phase of his priesthood, and now in Switzerland. Your contact information from cell phones to personal numbers Habeshia agency, are now considered a lifeline for young prisoners of raiders, for families who have no more news of their loved ones, for asylum seekers in the camps Libyans relegated , for migrants forgotten in Egyptian prisons or in refugee camps in Sudan, refugees left to themselves in Italy. Despairing of which often does not deal with anyone. And he, in addition to doing everything possible to organize a network of direct aid, continues to document and fight because this tragedy enters as a priority on the agenda of the UN, EU and all Western governments.
His voice has not been unheard: was repeatedly heard by the High Commissioner for Refugees; in June 2012 has had a formal hearing with the then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington; was convened by the commissions Affairs and Human Rights of the European Union to which he delivered in particular, at the beginning of November 2012, a report on the terrible conditions of detention centers in Libya; in 2013 and last year had three meetings in Brussels on the situation in Libya and in the Mediterranean and a debate on human trafficking with the EU Commissioner Cecilia Malmstron. A year ago, has faced this same problem in the Vatican, during an interview with Luis de Baca, the US State Department. His dossier in several cases have become the basis for international investigations by the prosecution or the individual countries and has been contacted several times as "expert" by various MEPs and Italian.
"But it is still only the beginning of a long and difficult - continues to repeat - this huge tragedy will be solved, as he warned Pope Francis, only when the mighty of the earth will change their policy towards the South. The last of the earth. "