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Prisoner swap process begins in Yemen

April 14, 2023 at 1:42 pm

A group of 230 Houthi prisoners arrive at Seyoun Airport by a plane of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) after the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group exchanged prisoners in line with a swap deal between them in Sanaa, Yemen on October 15, 2020 [Mohammed Hamoud – Anadolu Agency]

The implementation of the prisoner exchange deal began in Yemen on Friday, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Anadolu News Agency reports.

“Today, the process of releasing a group of detainees has begun in accordance with the agreement that took place in Switzerland in March,” ICRC spokesman, Adnan Hizam, told Anadolu.

“These are wonderful moments for these former detainees to return to their families … It is an essential step in building the relationship between the parties to the conflict in Yemen,” he said.

“We hope that such a step will lead to more releases of detainees,” Hizam added.

An Anadolu reporter confirmed that Mahmud Al-Subaihi, former Yemeni defence minister, and Nasser Mansur Hadi, brother of former Yemeni president, arrived in Aden after being released by the Houthi group.

The reporter added that 35 Yemeni prisoners from the Yemeni government were also on board on the same flight from Sana’a to Aden after their release.

READ: Guantanamo: Yemeni man will remain in prison despite US court ruling he is no threat

Meanwhile, the Director-General of Aden Airport, Abdul Raqeeb Al-Omari, told Anadolu that a flight left Aden Airport to Sana’a with 125 Houthi released prisoners on board.

He added that another flight will depart from Aden to Sana’a later in the day with 125 Houthi prisoners on board, and will be in parallel with an ICRC flight from Sana’a to Aden with 35 Yemeni government released prisoners on board.

According to the prisoner exchange deal program, around 320 prisoners, including 250 Houthis and approximately 70 from the government side, will be released on Friday.

On 20 March, the Yemeni government announced an agreement with the Houthi group to release 887 prisoners and abductees from both sides, at the conclusion of consultations held in Switzerland.

Last year, the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels signed a UN-brokered deal to free 2,000 prisoners, but their release was disrupted amid mutual accusations of violations of the agreement.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a.

READ: Tangible progress in Saudi, Oman peace talks with Houthi leaders