News ID: 274291
Published: 0305 GMT September 16, 2020

Yemen’s warring sides in ‘final’ talks on prisoner swap deal

Yemen’s warring sides in ‘final’ talks on prisoner swap deal
UN special envoy Martin Griffiths

Yemen’s warring sides will meet in Geneva on Thursday for UN-sponsored talks on the final touches of a deal to release more than 1,400 prisoners, sources on the two sides said.

The former government forces, supported by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Houthi Ansarullah movement agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of a peace deal brokered by the United Nations in Sweden in 2018.

The two sides have made sporadic prisoner swaps, but the release of 1,420 people – if it materializes – will mark the first large-scale prisoner trade since the war erupted in 2014, AFP reported.

Members of the former government’s committee for prisoner affairs said that 900 loyalists will be released in exchange for 520 Houthi prisoners.

“The meeting will address the release of the first batch of prisoners, 1,420 people from the two sides,” Majed Fadael, a member of the committee, told AFP on Wednesday.

A source close to Saudi-backed forces said that the talks in Geneva will “lay out the final touches” after agreement was reached with the International Committee of the Red Cross “on all logistical arrangements.”

He added that General Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of the country’s former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, along with 19 Saudis and other politicians and journalists, will be among those released.

Meanwhile, Houthi officials said that the head of their committee for prisoner affairs Abdul Qader al-Mortada had arrived in Switzerland ahead of the planned meeting.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Tuesday that he expected “to see the parties this week in Switzerland to continue their discussions on the implementation of prisoner exchanges.”

The development came after Franz Rauchenstein, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, confirmed to AFP in August that the two sides were in talks about a “quite considerable” prisoner exchange.

The Yemen conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, most of them civilians, and sparked what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

A Yemeni war monitor has released a report marking 2,000 days of Saudi Arabia’s aggression, saying Riyadh’s air campaign has taken a heavy toll on civilians and devastated Yemen’s infrastructure.

The report by the Eye Humanity Center for Rights and Development said 16,978 Yemenis lost their lives, including 3,790 children and 2,381 women, since a Saudi-led military coalition attacked Yemen in March 2015 to bring a resigned president back to power.



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