Mussie Zerai

Activist Type
Human Rights

Mussie “Father Moses” Zerai, a Catholic priest of Eritrean descent, gained global recognition when he was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2015. His remarkable work focuses on aiding migrants and refugees attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean. His efforts involve receiving distress calls from migrants via satellite phones and then relaying critical information, including GPS coordinates, to coast guards in Italy, Malta, and EU naval authorities, enabling them to launch rescue operations. Father Moses began his mission in 2003 when he provided his contact information to a journalist seeking assistance for Eritreans trapped in Libyan detention camps. His number quickly spread by word of mouth, even ending up scrawled on the walls of a Libyan prison. Over the past 15 years, he has become a vital crisis hotline for the Mediterranean, receiving calls from as far away as Yemen and Indonesia. Additionally, he founded the volunteer-driven “Watch the Med” call center, which now operates with the support of several dozen multilingual volunteers.

Artwork by
Fran Matos

To celebrate his esteemed position as a Catholic priest and influential leader in the Eritrean diaspora community, I sought to honor his faith by featuring a golden halo as the focal point in his portrait. Additionally, I wanted to pay homage to the rich artistic heritage of Eritrea by using a pattern inspired by Eritrean arts and culture, creating a blend of spirituality and traditional aesthetics.


Eritrea Flag
May 24, 1993
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