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Yemen’s Government, Houthis End Largest Prisoner Swap

Yemen’s Government, Houthis End Largest Prisoner Swap

Saturday, 17 October, 2020 - 05:00
Prisoners of war coming out of an ICRC plane as part of the swap.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) completed on Friday the last phase of a prisoner exchange deal, considered the largest between the Yemeni legitimate government and Houthi militias since the coup in late 2014.

The ICRC and both government and Houthi sources confirmed the release of 151 prisoners held by the militias transported on two flights that took off from Sanaa, Yemen’s Houthi-controlled capital, and landed in Aden in exchange for 201 rebel prisoners, who were also transferred in two batches from Aden to Sanaa.

"We're encouraged by this success and hope that it leads to more steps towards the transfer and release of more detainees," tweeted the ICRC.

A huge public rally was held Friday in the city of Marib to celebrate the arrival of the first group of detainees released Thursday. A large number of people lined up on the roadsides and main streets to welcome the prisoners of war.

The governor of Marib, Maj. General Sultan al-Arradah, along with General Chief of Staffs Lt. Gen. Sagheer bin Aziz, the governors of Saada, Ryma and Sanaa were the first to welcome the released detainees.

Meanwhile, the Joint Forces in the west coast are planning for a ceremony Saturday to welcome the released detainees who were captured during fierce battles around the strategic city of Hodeidah.

The exchange is the result of negotiations that took place over the last few months in Switzerland under UN sponsorship and based on the Stockholm Agreement, a deal signed between the Yemeni government and Houthis in 2018.

War prisoners released on Thursday included 470 Houthis, 221 government soldiers, 15 Saudis and four Sudanese.

The prisoners were transported on 11 flights, which took off or landed in five different cities - Sanaa, Seiyun and Aden in Yemen; and Riyadh and Abha in Saudi Arabia.

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