Parties of the Conflict Agree for Prisoner Exchange
The Shi'ite Houthi rebels and the recognised government in Yemen are planning the prisoners' exchange. It is still unclear how many will be released.
For the first time since the beginning of the armed conflict in Yemen, the parties to the conflict have agreed to exchange a large number of their prisoners. Representatives of the government of Yemen, which is supported by Saudi Arabia, met with representatives of the Houthi rebels for talks. The two sides agreed on a comprehensive exchange in Jordan, said Martin Griffiths, the UN's Yemeni representative. The name lists for this should follow "immediately".
The internationally recognised government in Yemen and the Shiite Houthi rebels had already agreed on the exchange of their 15,000 prisoners during their peace negotiations in Sweden in 2018 through the United Nations. So far, however, only a few hundred prisoners have been exchanged sporadically. The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the recent agreement was an important step in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement.
The details are still unknown
How many prisoners were affected by the new agreement was initially unclear. Huthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel Salam wrote on Twitter that the rebels wanted to release 1,400 prisoners, including Saudi Arabians and Sudanese who are fighting on the government side.
The last time around 130 Yemeni Houthi rebels returned to their homeland in November. The exchange was a sign of hope that the country's long civil war could be solved. At the weekend, however, 31 civilians were again killed in Saudi Arabian airstrikes in the Yemeni province of Al-Jauf. These were apparently retaliation for the shooting down of a Saudi Arabian fighter plane, which the Houthi rebels claimed for themselves.
The world's worst humanitarian crisis
In Yemen, there has been a war between the troops of de facto disempowered President Abd Rabbo Mansur Hadi, who is supported by the Arab military alliance and Sunni militias, and the Shiite Houthi militias, behind which Iran stands, since 2015. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict so far. The conflict had attracted attention last September when Houthi fighters acknowledged the drone strikes on oil production facilities in Saudi Arabia.
The UN sees the worst humanitarian crisis in the world in Yemen, according to non-governmental organizations, most of the victims of the war are civilians. Millions of people are on the run. Part of the population is starving due to a sea blockade. In addition, the ongoing problems with water and medication caused a dengue epidemic, and numerous people have contracted the dangerous fever disease.