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Swiss wins bravery prize for helping refugees in Greece

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Swiss wins bravery prize for helping refugees in Greece
Refugees arriving by boat on Lesbos. Photo: STR/AFP
12:09 CET+01:00
A Swiss man who gave up his job to help refugees in Greece has won a prize for bravery, worth 15,000 francs, in recognition of his efforts.

Michael Räber, 40, was on holiday in Greece in August 2015 when he witnessed the terrible conditions facing refugees arriving in the country.

Rather than returning home to Kiesen in the canton of Bern after his holiday, Räber talked it over with his wife, resigned from his job in IT and decided to stay and help.

With a friend, he set up the organization scheizerchrüz.ch and recruited more than 100 volunteers to help refugees in Greece.

Initially the organization aimed to look after homeless refugees in Athens, before then helping to rescue people shipwrecked off the coast of the island of Lesbos.

It has also been involved in cooking for those living in migrant camps in Greece and distributing 14,000 pairs of shoes to people stranded along the border with Macedonia.

Presenting Räber with the 2016 Prix Courage in Zurich on Friday, president of the jury Pascale Bruderer said: “His actions in coming to the aid of people who are suffering in their moment of need, giving up his own financial security, his job and being away from his family, impressed us.”

The Prix Courage is awarded by the magazine Beobachter, whose editor Andres Büchi described Raber as a courageous man who “acts when people suffer”.

The winner was decided by a combination of public voting and a jury.

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