In a significant step toward resolving the protracted conflict in Yemen, the country’s warring factions successfully completed a massive exchange of prisoners on Sunday, with a total of 887 detainees swapped overMore
The Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen and the rebel Houthis completed a three-day prisoner exchange on April 16. Close to 900 prisoners have been exchanged between the two warring sides through mid-April. The exchange is the result of an agreement reached in Switzerland in March as part of a round of ongoing peace and reconciliation talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia—the primary supporter of the Yemeni government.
The historic peace talks are seen as a result of the rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia brokered by China. A resolution toward ending the years-long war in Yemen was reportedly one of the key issues in the Saudi-Iran rapprochement.
The prisoner exchange has been widely recognized as an important step towards peace in a war that has already claimed over 1.5 million lives, according to the Houthi-backed administration in Sana’a, and displaced millions. As a consequence of the Saudi-imposed blockade, millions of people, including at least 2.2 million children, have also suffered from acute malnutrition and hunger.
UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, who helped broker the prisoner exchange agreement in Switzerland, commented, “This release operation comes at a time of hope for Yemen as a reminder that constructive dialogue and mutual compromises are powerful tools capable of achieving great outcomes. Today, hundreds of Yemeni families get to celebrate Eid with their loved ones because the parties negotiated and reached an agreement. I hope this spirit is reflected in ongoing efforts to advance a comprehensive political solution.”
from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service
In a significant step toward resolving the protracted conflict in Yemen, the country’s warring factions successfully completed a massive exchange of prisoners on Sunday, with a total of 887 detainees swapped over three consecutive days.
Yahya Kazman, chief of the negotiation committee from the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, said the third and final batch of the swap took place successfully on Sunday, with the arrival of three simultaneous Red Cross flights at the airport of Sanaa and the airport of Tadween in Marib, central Yemen.
Over the past three days, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations have facilitated the transportation of hundreds of prisoners between Yemen’s regions and Saudi Arabia via various airports.
High-profile figures, including Nasser Mansour Hadi, the brother of former Yemeni president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and Mahmoud Al Subeihi, the country’s former defense minister, were among those who were freed.
The prisoner swap comes as part of ongoing efforts aimed at building trust between the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia, who have been engaged in a brutal internal conflict since late 2014.
It is also widely regarded as a vital milestone in preparing a favorable environment and showcasing mutual commitment from both parties to actively participate in forthcoming peace negotiations with the ultimate aim of achieving permanent peace.
Following the successful exchange of prisoners between the Yemeni government and the Houthi militia, local observers said that the move has ignited a glimmer of optimism for further deals that could potentially lead to the release of all those held in captivity.
Yemen has been embroiled in a years-long military conflict after the Houthi militia, backed by Iran, took control of several northern cities and ousted the Saudi-backed Yemeni government from the capital, Sanaa in 2014.
The ongoing conflict has resulted in a staggering number of casualties and has pushed the Arab world’s poorest country into a humanitarian crisis, including widespread famine.