Houthis And Yemeni Government Begin Prisoner Swap
By Arab News
A multi-day operation to exchange nearly 900 prisoners from Yemen’s war held by the Houthi militia and the Yemeni government began Friday, the International Committee for the Red Cross said.
“Our team has assessed the health of the detainees and confirmed they are fit to travel,” tweeted the Red Cross on Friday.
The three-day exchange will see flights transport prisoners between Saudi Arabia and Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, long held by the Iranian-backed Houthi militias, said Majed Fadail, a deputy minister for human rights for Yemen’s internationally recognized government, according to AP.
Other flights will bring prisoners between Sanaa and other Yemeni cities controlled by the internationally recognized government, he said. The Red Cross said that on Friday, there would be two rounds of simultaneous flights between Aden and Sanaa to transfer prisoners.
“The detainees will be flown into and out of several cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Our teams will accompany them, overseeing the transfer and addressing any medical needs.”
The Red Cross will be working with the Yemeni and Saudi Red Crescent to provide first aid services.
“Hundreds of families torn apart by conflict are being reunited during the holy month of Ramadan. A glimmer of hope amidst great suffering,” the Red Cross said.
The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council welcomed the agreement and called it an important humanitarian gesture as it will pave the way for the return of hundreds of prisoners and detainees to their families and loved ones.
Jassem Albudaiwi expressed his appreciation for the role played by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, and the International Committee of the Red Cross in sponsoring the deal.
“This agreement is a new glimmer of hope that gives impetus to the efforts aimed at putting the Yemeni crisis on the right path to reach a positive solution, and an encouraging step that supports peace for Yemen,” he said in a statement.
The UN-brokered deal, in the works for months, comes amid concerted diplomatic efforts to negotiate an end to the conflict.
The three-day operation is the most significant prisoner exchange in Yemen since both sides freed more than 1,000 detainees in October 2020. Thousands of people are believed to be held as prisoners of war by all sides since the war erupted.
Yemen’s conflict began in 2014 when the Houthis seized Sanaa and much of the country’s north.