The international community welcomed the latest prisoner exchange agreement reached between the legitimate Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi militias.
The parties agreed to free 887 detainees and to meet again in May after 10 days of negotiations in Switzerland, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Monday.
The agreement caps seven rounds of talks over the release of captives that include 181 people affiliated with the government and Saudi-led Arab coalition and 706 Houthis, the majority of whom were captured during battle.
The parties further committed to exchange joint visits to each other’s detention facilities and to enable access to all detainees during these visits, said UN special envoy Hans Grundberg in a statement on Monday.
He thanked “the parties who are with us today for engaging in constructive dialogue and negotiating in good faith to make the needed compromises to reach this conclusion.”
“I urge them to facilitate the speedy implementation of the releases, and to build further on today’s outcome and agree on more releases. I also encourage the parties to release additional detainees on a unilateral and ongoing basis,” he added.
“Today’s outcome is a welcome development and positive progress towards the parties’ fulfillment of their obligation under the Stockholm Agreement to release conflict-related detainees on an all-for-all basis,” the envoy stressed.
“Today, hundreds of Yemeni families can look forward to reuniting with their loved ones. But it is important to remember that, when the parties committed to the Detainees’ Exchange Agreement, they made a promise, not just to each other, but to thousands of Yemeni families who have been living with the pain of separation from those dearest to them for far too long,” Grundberg remarked.
He said, however, that “much remains to be done. A comprehensive and sustainable end to the conflict is necessary if Yemen is to recover from the devastating toll the eight-year conflict has had on its men and women.”
“To this end, I will continue my work with the parties, regional member states and the international community to make progress towards an inclusive Yemeni-led political process that sets the foundations of a better future for Yemen,” he vowed.
The United States welcomed the prisoner exchange agreement.
“This important step builds on the positive environment created by a truce in Yemen that has effectively stopped the fighting for the past 11 months,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
She stressed that the US remains committed to efforts to “advance a durable resolution to the conflict.”
The European Union welcomed the agreement, urging parties to ensure that it is implemented and build on this momentum to reach peace.