RESIDENTS and campaigners held a vigil for the 39 people who lost their lives in a lorry.

The group of about 25 held a minute’s silence outside the Brighton Unitarian Church, to remember the Chinese nationals found in a trailer in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Viv Mugunga, who made a perilous journey into the UK from war-torn Rwanda in the 1990s, gave a speech to the crowd who had gathered in New Road.

She was one of a handful of speakers who expressed their sadness at the “tragic” and “shocking” incident.

Speaking to The Argus, she said: “For me, it was the way they died which was the most upsetting.

“People need to go through these journeys and the memory of my journey comes back to me.

“In my journey I went from war to war, from one fire to another.

“You don’t think about anything, you take the chances you have in front of you to escape.

“To the people who are sitting in their warm houses and believe these people look stupid – they are not stupid.”

Lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, has been arrested on suspicion of murdering the eight women and 31 men who were inside the refrigerated lorry.

Ambulance staff discovered the bodies in the container at Waterglade Industrial Park in Essex shortly after 1.30am on Wednesday.

Messages from Green MP Caroline Lucas and Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle were read out to the crowd.

The former backed campaigners’ calls for reform to the country’s immigration policy.

The statement read: “The hostile environment has to end.

“We must reject this Government’s vision of Britain as a mean minded, inward looking country and instead create a future in which nobody feels forced to take desperate and unimaginable risks.”

The vigil was held on the steps of Brighton church from 5.30pm.

Candles were put in the shape of the number 39 and attendees were invited to share their thoughts with the crowd.

Richard Williams, from Sanctuary on Sea, said he spent the minute’s silence thinking about the victims’ final moments.

He said: “I thought about what it was like for those poor people struggling to breathe and starting to feel the cold in their legs.

“Then realising that the person next to them had died and not knowing if they were going to die too. “

Arran Evans, convenor of Brighton Stand Up To Racism, organised the event at short notice.

He said: “It’s absolutely unbelievable.

“It’s hard to comprehend what has happened to these fellow human beings.”

Similar services to remember those who lost their lives were held in Leeds, Bristol, and outside the Home Office in London.