The Yemeni government and Houthis exchanged 135 prisoners through a tribal mediation in the country's southwestern province of Taiz on Thursday, officials from both sides said.
Mediator Abdallah Shadad told Asharq Al-Awsat that the deal was achieved solely through local efforts and resulted in the release of 75 hostages in exchange for 60 Houthi rebels.
Shadad revealed that released hostages were aged between 17 and 50 and some of whom had spent five years in Houthi jails. He added that another 300 Taiz civilians remain detained in Houthi prisons. There are 80 more Houthi war captives who remain in the Yemeni pro-government forces’ hold.
According to Shadad, a new deal will be brokered soon involving those who remain captive. The swap took place in al-Akrouth area of the al-Misrakh district in the southeast of Taiz.
Shadad explained that the detainees who were exchanged were in a fairly good health condition, except for three detainees from the government side whose health condition was deteriorating due to the injuries that were neglected and untreated.
Previous mediation had succeeded in achieving several swap deals between the two sides. Taiz, the second most populated province in Yemen, is about 156 km south of Houthi-held capital Sanaa.
The government forces control much of the province, while Houthis surround it from the top of the mountains.
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 after the Houthi rebels overran the capital Sanaa.
Local activist Riad Al Dbei said that the latest exchange was thanks to tribal mediation efforts and proved the United Nations’ inability to perform its role.