Open letter to Paulo Mirpuri, Mirpuri Foundation and owner of Hi Fly airlines.
Dear Paulo Mirpuri
Support for refugees
I read about the Mirpuri Foundation with great interest. As a Canadian/British citizen living in Canada at that time I was thrilled to read that in, in 2016, the Mirpuri Foundation sponsored the transportation of approximately 3.000 Syrian refugees to Canada. This was through Hi Fly, owned by your family (Paulo and Carlos Mirpuri). This was one of several humanitarian programs you were involved in.
Also, you offered funding to contribute to a study with the British Institute of International and Comparative Law for a study of the responsibilities of, and implications for, private vessels involved in the search and rescue of migrants and refugees at sea. This is laudable.
And, from this quote from your foundation website it seems you understand:
“Each day, in Europe and beyond, desperate people are being plucked from the sea, as migrants and would-be asylum seekers embark upon perilous sea crossings in flight from violence, persecution or war, and in search of protection. Many of them do not survive.“
I believe you understand that things will get worse; wars continue and the climate crisis, which will affect predominately poorer countries, will mean more people need to escape to safety.
Participation in UK government’s deportation of refugees to Rwanda
Yet, your company Hi Fly has taken part in deportations and has agreed to work with the British government on the deportation of refugees to Rwanda. You must inform me if this information is incorrect.
Mental health effects of deportation of vulnerable people
I quote Diana Taylor, the Guardian:
“I interviewed an Iranian family – mum, dad and teenage daughter – who arrived on a small boat in June 2022 so are in line for forced removal to Rwanda. They appeared calm until I asked if they had received a notice of intent letter about being moved to Rwanda. As suddenly as the flicking on of a light switch, the teenage girl started screaming and crying hysterically because she heard the word Rwanda…. She explained that terror about being sent to Rwanda had caused clumps of this [her daughter’s] beautiful hair to fall out. They fear they would not be safe there [in Rwanda], and that they would be far from Iranian communities which are well established in the UK but non-existent in Rwanda… ”
Dr Mirpuri, you are a medical doctor. I do not know your specialty, but you would have received training in psychiatry. How could you be part of a deportation programme?
Mission of the Mirpuri Foundation
“… committed to making the world a better place based on the values of hope, integrity, collaboration, persistence, courage and innovation. “
Hi Fly agrees to deports refugees against their will to Rwanda
I am sure that you would agree that the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, a global organization dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people would be a helpful resource for the aims of your foundation.
“UNHCR remains firmly opposed to arrangements that seek to transfer refugees and asylum seekers to third countries in the absence of sufficient safeguards and standards,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs, describing the arrangements as shifting asylum responsibilities and evading international obligations that are “contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention.”
Is the world better if Hi Fly deports refugees against their will to Rwanda? Refugees are people, some would have been tortured, some will be in shackles.
Dr Carol Westall
Carol Westall PhD FARVO FAAO
Senior Scientist Emerita, Professor of Ophthalmology (-2018).
The Hospital for Sick Children and University of Toronto.