Arab nations praise Yemen prisoner swap


Hours after the release of 887 prisoners, Houthis have unveiled a new prisoner swap agreement with the Yemeni government which involves a total number of around 1400 prisoners….reports Asian Lite News

The successful three-day prisoner exchange between the Yemeni government and the Houthis has received praise from Arab nations and organisations, as Saudi Arabia ramps up its efforts to mediate a lasting peace between the warring factions.

Last week, Mohammed Al-Jaber, the Kingdom’s envoy to Yemen, and a delegation from Oman travelled to Sanaa to meet with the Houthis to discuss stabilising the truce and eventually ending the conflict in the war-torn country.

Under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, a multi-day humanitarian operation transferred almost 900 detainees in and out of several cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

The Arab Parliament welcomed the prisoner exchange operation in a statement and emphasized that these efforts were part of the Arab world’s continuous attempts to calm the situation in Yemen and reach a comprehensive political solution to end the crisis.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) secretary general, Hissein Brahim Taha, also praised the prisoner exchange as an important humanitarian operation that took place during the holy month of Ramadan. He expressed hope that the swap would give a new boost to Saudi Arabia and Oman’s mediation efforts towards achieving peace in Yemen.

Egypt’s foreign affairs ministry described the transfer as “a positive and significant step towards renewing the Yemeni truce and achieving comprehensive and sustainable peace.” Cairo also expressed full support for efforts to restore security and stability in Yemen and alleviate the humanitarian crisis that Yemenis are facing.

The Jordanian foreign affairs ministry praised the important role played by the UN and ICRC in sponsoring the prisoner exchange operations and hailed the efforts made by Saudi Arabia and Oman’s delegations in reaching an agreement.

Both sides are optimistic about future prisoner exchanges, with the Houthis planning to propose exchanging 1,400 people during the next round of discussions, while the Yemeni government is dedicated to exchanging all detainees with the Houthis and clearing jails of those who had been kidnapped or forcefully vanished during the war.

1400 prisoners to be released

Houthi rebels have unveiled a new prisoner swap agreement with the country’s government, raising hopes for a peaceful resolution to the country’s ongoing conflict.

The move comes just hours after the Iran-backed Houthis and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government successfully completed a prisoner swap in which 887 prisoners and detainees from both sides were released.

Abdul-Qader al-Mortada, head of the Houthi committee for prisoners’ affairs, said on Sunday during a press conference held in the Houthis-controlled Yemeni capital of Sanaa that “an upcoming deal will involve the release of 700 captives in exchange for 700 prisoners from the opposing side (referring to the government)”.

However, the Houthi official did not provide details on the timing for the exchange and the signing of the deal with the Yemeni government, Xinhua news agency reported.

So far, both the Yemeni government and the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC), who was responsible for transporting detainees as agreed in the just-finished swap deal, have not commented on the Houthi announcement.

Mahdi al-Mashat (1st L), chairman of the Houthi’s political council, meets with Muhammad Al Jaber (2nd L), Saudi ambassador to Yemen, in Sanaa, Yemen, on April 9, 2023. (Houthi-run Saba News Agency/Handout via Xinhua)

Large-scale swap

Yahya Kazman, chief of the negotiation committee from the internationally-recognised Yemeni government, said the third and last batch of the swap concluded successfully on Sunday, with the arrivals of three Red Cross flights at the airport of Sanaa and the airport of Tadween in Marib, central Yemen.

Over the past three days, the ICRC and the UN have facilitated the transportation of hundreds of prisoners between Yemeni regions and Saudi Arabia via flights.

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 Defence Minister, were among those who were freed.

The prisoner swap is also widely regarded as a crucial step toward preparing favourable conditions for and demonstrating both parties’ commitment to forthcoming negotiations that aimed at achieving a lasting peace.

Local observers said that the three-day prisoner swap has raised hope for further deals that could potentially lead to the release of all captives held by the two warring sides.

Yemen has been embroiled in a years-long military conflict after the Houthi militia took control of several northern cities and ousted the Yemeni government from Sanaa in 2014.

The ongoing conflict has resulted in a staggering number of casualties and has plunged the Arab world’s poorest country into humanitarian crises, including a widespread famine.

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