By Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said the time to stamp out sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment is now.

In a statement marking the International Women’s Day Thursday, the UNHCR said the theme of this year’s anniversary: “Time is now”, came to express the urgency of stamping out vices such as sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, mostly suffered by women.

The statement signed by Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Also the right moment to redouble our commitment to stamping out sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. These are inexcusable. We at UNHCR have been at the forefront of this fight and will continue to be. There is no place in our organisation for those who do not share and respect our core values.

“I urge victims to speak out and stand for their rights. And I appeal to anyone who has witnessed sexual misconduct in the context of UNHCR operations to come forward and report it. We will continue to step up our support for victims and will strive to improve even further the ways in which we prevent, report and deal with cases of sexual misconduct.”

He said that with this year’s theme – “Time is Now” – the fight against sexual abuse comes at the right moment, stressing that: “And it also echoes UNHCR’s firm commitment to uphold the rights of women and girls, and to ensure that our work to secure protection and solutions for displaced and stateless people takes full account of age, gender and diversity.”

Details later…