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Yemen: Legitimacy, Houthis Agree to Exchange Corpses

Yemen: Legitimacy, Houthis Agree to Exchange Corpses

Saturday, 9 February, 2019 - 08:00
Abdul Qader Murtada, head of the Houthi delegation, attends a new round of talks to discuss a prisoners swap deal between Yemen's warring parties, in Amman, Jordan February 5, 2019. (Reuters)
Jeddah, New York, Amman – Saeed al-Abyad, Ali Barada, Asharq Al-Awsat

Delegations of the two warring sides in Yemen reached an agreement in Amman, Jordan, to exchange bodies of fighters killed during the past years in the ongoing military conflict, with the final lists of prisoners and detainees yet to be finalized.

The agreement includes exchanging 2,000 bodies, 1,000 for each side. The process will be implemented over three stages, sources in Amman stated.

The first phase will start in three weeks after current negotiations are concluded, where the two sides will start by exchanging bodies in the morgues. The second stage will focus on the bodies in cemeteries far from the front lines, which will last for two months. The third includes exchanging the bodies left in the battlefield and on the frontlines, which will take a long time until a cease-fire is reached.

Earlier, a government delegation confirmed that the meeting of the Committee on Prisoners and Detainees revealed the fate of 235 abductees and prisoners, including member of the Supreme Authority for Reform Mohammad Qahtan and Major General Faisal Rajab.

Previously, the Houthi group refused to provide any information about the detainees but finally agreed to acknowledge their presence during the meetings in Amman.

Although both parties have submitted preliminary lists of more than 15,000 prisoners and detainees, further investigations led to a lower number, amid expectations that the final lists of prisoners and detainees released from both sides will not exceed 2,000.

Since Wednesday, government representatives and Houthi representatives have not met as each team is studying lists of detainees and prisoners for the final stage.

Once approved, government sources expect the exchange of prisoners deal to begin within 10 days in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Red Cross committee revealed it has prepared two aircraft to transport prisoners and detainees, where the transfer is expected to take place between Sanaa and Seiyun, and vice versa.

Majed Fadayel, Undersecretary of the Yemeni Human Rights Ministry, confirmed in previous statements to Asharq Al-Awsat that all the lists presented in the past had changed.

The government initially gave the names of some 9,000 detainees, and after several rounds, the number declined to 4500, indicating that so far 1300 detainees have been confirmed to be in militias' prisons. He added that any person proved to be in detention will be added to the final list, and those who have not been confirmed will be further studied and added to the list of missing.

Amman talks led by the UN's international envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, aimed at reaching an integrated package to ensure the settlement of the humanitarian file based on the Stockholm agreement, according to a source at the UN headquarters in New York.

The source told Asharq Al-Awsat that remarkable progress has been made, and the international envoy is mediating to help the parties resolve any issue they may face.

Griffith's office reported that the special committee on prisoners and detainees discussed the steps taken so far to implement the prisoner exchange agreement, stressing that the meetings witnessed positive and constructive discussions.

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