Vigil for Refugees Who've Died Trying to Reach Europe

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ROME, JUNE 16, 2011 (Zenit.org).- A prayer vigil in Rome today remembered the lives of nearly 18,000 people who have died in the last two decades as they tried to reach the borders of Europe.

The Fides agency reports that since 1990, at least 17,597 refugees and would-be immigrants have died en route to Europe.

The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers and the Catholic lay Sant'Egidio Community commemorated their lives in the vigil.

2011 has been a deadly year already for those trying to reach Europe, particularly due to the conflicts in Northern African, and especially Libya.

During the first five months of this year, more than 1,800 have died, with more than 1,600 of those trying to reach Italy.

Numbers are probably higher as some refugees likely disappear in the Mediterranean without a trace.

World Refugee Day 2011 will be marked Monday. The Sant'Egidio community is holding prayer vigils in various cities to remember these refugees.

The series of vigils is called "Die of Hope" and today's was presided over by Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.