Yemen: Houthis announce new prisoner swap deal with government

By Shukri Hussein

SANA’A, Yemen (AA): Yemen’s  Ansar Allah [Houthi]  announced a new prisoner swap agreement Sunday with the Yemeni government.

This came shortly after the two rivals completed the exchange of nearly 900 prisoners.

“An upcoming deal will include the release of 700 captives in exchange for 700 prisoners from the other side,” Abdul-Qader al-Mortada, head of the Houthi committee for prisoners’ affairs, told a press conference in the capital Sana’a.

He did not provide any details about the date of the planned swap deal, however.

There has been no confirmation so far from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The prisoner exchange with the Houthis is a beacon of hope for comprehensive peace in the country, said Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council (PLC) President Rashad al-Alimi.

Alimi noted that hundreds of prisoners have already been reunited with their loved ones.

They will continue to work for the release of male and female detainees in Houthi prisons, he said.

On March 20, the Yemeni government announced an agreement with the Houthi group at the conclusion of consultations held in Switzerland to release a total of 887 prisoners and abductees from both sides. Last year, the Yemeni government and the Houthis signed a UN-brokered deal to free 2,000 prisoners, but their release was disrupted amide mutual accusations of violations of the agreement.

This comes as the Houthi group said Friday it agreed with a Saudi delegation to keep a calm atmosphere in war-tornYemen.

Houthi spokesman Mohamed Abdulsalam said on the pro-Houthi Al-Masirah channel that his group finalized a round of consultations with the delegation under Omani mediation.

“(A) positive and serious atmosphere” prevailed during talks that took place in the Houthi-controlled capital city of Sanaa.

Several humanitarian, military and political files were negotiated and progress was made during talks, said Abdulsalam.

He also said the Saudi delegation left Sana’a for further consultation.

The Saudi Arabian and Omani delegations left Sana’a on Thursday after six days of talks with the Houthi group where they discussed the possibilities of achieving peace in Yemen.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Houthis captured much of the country, including the capital, Sana’a.

*Writing by Ahmed Asmar and Gozde Bayar

[Photo: Relatives of prisoners welcome released prisoners at Sana’a International Airport during the second prisoner exchange deal between the Yemeni government and Houthi groups in Yemen on April 16, 2023. Photojournalist :Mohammed Hamoud/AA]

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