(by Fausto Gasparroni) (ANSAmed) – ROME, MARCH 26 – The issue of persecution of Christians in the Middle East will be addressed at a UN Security Council meeting on Friday in New York. French foreign minister Laurent Fabius will be chairing an ‘open debate’ at the ministerial level on the situation of ethnic and religious minorities under attack in the region in turmoil. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon will be speaking and a video-conference from Geneva will be held with High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein. The Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad, Monsignor Louis Raphael I Sako, and Vian Dakhil, the Iraqi parliamentarian of the Yezidi minority who in August drew the world’s attention to the horrors of an attack suffered by her community by the Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Iraq, will be present. This is the first time that the UN Security Council will be devoting a debate to the persecution of minorities currently under attack from jihadists. France, which holds the alternating presidency, chose to focus on the issue after reports of widespread and systematic human rights violations by ISIS, such as the attack on the Yezidis that has been called a ‘genocide’, as well as the killings of Kurds, the hostage-taking of hundreds of Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in northeastern Syria and the decapitation of 21 men (including 20 Coptic Christians) in Libya. The deliberate destruction of religious sanctuaries and archaeological finds as well as illicit trafficking by ISIS to finance terrorism activities also played a part in the reason for the Security Council meeting. On Friday, Patriarch Sako will focus on the challenges faced by the Iraqi Christian community in ISIS-controlled areas, their escape from Mosul in August last year when threatened with death if they refused to convert to Islam or to pay a ‘religious tax’, thereby losing their possessions, homes and clothes and seeking refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan in the Erbil region, where they are still internally displaced. Following France’s announcement early this month that a UN Security Council meeting would be held on the issue, a joint declaration was made on March 13 by the Vatican, Russia and Lebanon to the Geneva Human Rights Council, undersigned by 65 UN member states calling on the international community to support all ethnic and religious communities that have their roots in the Middle East. These communities, it continued, are threatened by ISIS, Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups and Christians are at risk of disappearing from the area entirely. Christian authorities have in recent months spoken out against the lack of response from the international community on violence by ISIS, which even the Pope has called for ”proportional” force to be used against. (ANSAmed).