Yemen; Saudia Arabia; Haiti; South Sudan; UNICEF; and more

Yemen: The United Nations human rights chief, Navi Pillay today warned that there must be no amnesty for gross rights violations in Yemen, stressing that the victims of the worst abuses during the country’s protracted crisis must have recourse to justice. Noting she has been closely following the debate about a possible amnesty in Yemen, Ms. Pillay said that both international law and UN policy are clear on the issue.

Saudi Arabia:
The United Nations human rights office expressed alarm today at the significant increase in Saudi Arabia’s use of capital punishment in the past year. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the number of executions in the country almost tripled last year compared with 2010. OHCHR also expressed grave concern at the recent sentencing of six men convicted on charges of highway robbery. The men were condemned to “cross amputation” – a form of punishment which involves the amputation of the men’s right hands and left feet.

The allocation of resources for Haiti’s recovery from the devastating earthquake two years ago has shifted to reconstruction, infrastructure restoration, debris removal, job creation and capacity building, senior UN officials said today, noting, however, that considerable humanitarian needs remain. According to Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP’s Associate Administrator, UNDP had helped create 300,000 temporary jobs since the quake, organizing people to carry out activities such as debris removal, garbage collection and enhancing disaster risk reduction. Forty per cent of the temporary jobs have gone to women. Efforts are now shifting towards the creation of more sustainable jobs, moving from cash-for-work schemes to cash for production employment.

South Sudan:
The United Nations launched a humanitarian emergency effort Friday following last month’s intertribal clashes in South Sudan, responding to a wave of violence that might have left thousands dead and some 50,000 people in urgent need of aid. Media reports have put the death toll in the clashes as high as 3,000, but the U.N. could not confirm that number. On Tuesday, Lise Grande, the top U.N. official in the region, said the death toll could be anywhere from dozens to hundreds. The Spokesperson said a rapid response plan is now being finalized.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador
: Renowned Senegalese musician Youssou N’Dour has temporarily stepped down from his role as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UNICEF as he embarks on campaigning as a candidate in his country’s presidential elections, the agency has reported. According to UNICEF policy, politicians or those seeking public office cannot serve as Goodwill Ambassadors for the organization, the agency said in a statement issued yesterday.

Libya: At least 1.2 million Libyan pupils are set to return to school tomorrow
, almost a year after they evacuated their classrooms during the country’s popular uprising against the regime of Muammar al-Qadhafi, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported today. The agency said about 27 million textbooks are being printed by Libya’s education ministry and 10 million have already been distributed in anticipation of the return to school. But a shortage of both books and desks remain, and transport to and from school is also lacking for many children.