Yemeni government, Houthis agree to swap 1,000 prisoners: Source | Yemen | Instant News

The warring Yemenis agreed to swap more than 1,000 prisoners during UN-sponsored talks in Switzerland.

The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to swap around 1,000 prisoners, including 19 Saudi soldiers, partially implementing the confidence-building measures agreed during peace talks held in Sweden in late 2018.

Sources familiar with the talks said the Yemeni government, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi group they have fought against for more than five years have agreed on a list of 1,080 prisoners in exchange for what would be the largest installment.

The prisoner swap deal, which aims to free some 15,000 prisoners from both sides, has been implemented slowly and only in part. The ICRC will supervise the return of detainees to their families.

UN envoy Martin Griffiths and an official from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will hold a press conference on Sunday evening, at the end of a week-long meeting of the Yemeni detainees and detainees committee.

“What is important for us is implementing the prisoners [exchange] and don’t just sign it, ‚ÄĚsenior Houthi official Mohammed Ali al-Houthi tweeted on Sunday morning.

In a unilateral move, the Houthis last year freed 290 prisoners and Saudi Arabia released 128, while locally-mediated exchanges in governor Taiz saw dozens released. In January this year, the ICRC facilitated the release of six Saudis held by the Houthis.

The last talks which began at an undisclosed location in Switzerland on Sept. 18 aim to agree to the release of 1,420 prisoners. Among them is the brother of Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

But General Nasser Mansour Hadi’s release from rebel hands “has been postponed”, according to a member of the Yemeni government delegation.

Yemen has been mired in conflict since the Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from power in the capital, Sanaa in late 2014, prompting the Saudi-led coalition to intervene in March 2015.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

The conflict is widely seen in the region as a proxy war between rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. Riyadh launched informal talks for a ceasefire with the Houthis late last year as it struggles to emerge from an expensive war.

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