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Russia seriously concerned over Christians’ exodus from Middle East — Lavrov

April 20, 2015, 18:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"Christians, including priests, are murdered, robbed, taken hostage and forced to leave their native soil", Lavrov said

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© AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

MOSCOW, April 20. /TASS/. The Christian population in the Middle East and North Africa is suffering severely from extremism and terrorism, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the audience at the traditional Orthodox Easter reception in the Foreign Ministry’s mansion in Moscow.

"In recent years, a cause for serious concern has been the aggravation of the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, where the crisis is expanding, and the area is subject to a wave of extremism and terrorism," Russia’s top diplomat said. "The Christian population has been suffering severely from this. Christians, including priests, are murdered, robbed, taken hostage and forced to leave their native soil."

"Obviously, the exodus of Christians from the Middle East has an adverse effect on the structure of Arab societies and, on the whole, on the region’s future and on preserving the world’s historical and spiritual heritage," he said.

Lavrov pointed to the fact that many Christians seeking protection put their hopes and trust in Russia. "We bring our utmost concern to the attention of our partners in various formats and at all levels," he said.

The Russian Foreign Minister reminded that Russia, together with a large group of co-authors, during the session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva organized an international conference dedicated to protecting the rights of Christians, which adopted a joint statement to support Christians and other communities, in particular in the Middle East.

A topical task in the present-day world is to exert efforts to stand up to Christianophobia, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"The number of Christians who suffer from various forms of persecution, including slaying, tortures and discrimination, reaches 200 million," he said. "At the United Nations, UNESCO, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, we consistently advocate measures to prevent religious intolerance."

The Russian minister noted that the OSCE had already organized conferences on measures against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. "This year, we plan to organize a corresponding event on measures against Christianophobia," Lavrov said.

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