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Yemen war rivals to exchange 16,000 prisoners

December 11, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Freed Yemeni prisoners attend a meeting with the leader of the Houthi group on 31 January 2017 [MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images]

Yemen’s government and Houthi rebels will exchange some 16,000 prisoners after 40 days, said a member of the Yemeni delegation of ongoing peace talks in Sweden, Anadolu Agency reports.

Hadi Haig, who heads the Yemeni government’s prisoner swap committee, said before the exchange names of prisoners held by both sides will be verified, including those who are missing.

“We hope it will be done on time,” he said.

He noted that he had held a meeting with Abdul Qader al-Murtada, who is responsible for prisoner files in Houthi jails, in presence of officials from the International Red Cross and the UN.

The government delegation submitted some 8,576 names while the Houthi administration submitted 7,486.

UN: 20m face hunger in Yemen 

Hamid Assem, a member of the Houthi administration delegation, told Anadolu Agency the exchange will take place at once.

UN-backed peace talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels kicked off Thursday in Sweden.

Yemen has been wracked by violence since 2014, when the Houthi rebels overran much of the country and the crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi gains.

Saudi Arabia and Sunni allies accuse the Houthis of acting as a proxy force for Shia Iran.

Tens of thousands of people, including civilians, are believed to have been killed and the UN estimates that around 14 million Yemenis are at risk of famine.