ACCRA-- African Union Continental Symposium on the Implementation of the International Decade for People of African Descent has opened in Accra with the Union High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) calling on African leaders to create stronger regional and national momentum among nations and civil society.

Idrissa Kane, the Deputy Regional Representative of the UNHCR for Eastern Africa, said here Wednesday that the Decade needed greater visibility and implementation on the Continent and that stronger leadership was needed to implement the Programme of Activities over the next six years and the African Union (AU) was well-placed to do that.

In an effort to minimize the dangers faced by migrants of African descent throughout the world, the United Nations in 2001 organized the 3rd World Conference against Racism, which led to the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action.

The three-day Symposium here this week is organized by the AU Commission, in collaboration with UNHCHR and Citizens and Diaspora Directorate of the African Union Commission.

The Durban Declaration acknowledged that people of African descent are victims of slavery, slave trade and colonialism. It considered slavery as crimes against humanity with manifestations of racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia, and called on states to adopt specific steps to help combat racism and xenophobia to protect victims

Subsequently, the UN General Assembly, in Resolution 68/237, which was adopted on Dec 23, 2013, proclaimed the International Decade for People of African Descent, 2015 to 2024 on the theme: People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development.

Kane said the Decade was a strategy to increase the AU Commission's co-operation to realise the full enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights by people of African descent and their full and equal participation in all aspects of society.

It is meant to improve the lives of people of African descent everywhere. For the next six years, the United Nations system, member States, civil society, stakeholders' regional organizations such as African Union are to join together with people of African descent to implement the comprehensive Programme of Activities, he added.