Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat

Yemen Govt, Houthis to Release 887 Prisoners in UN-mediated Agreement

Officials are seen at the prisoner exchange talks in Bern. (Twitter)

The Yemeni government and Iran-backed Houthi militias 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.

"It's an expression of hope. It's an expression of humanity and it indicates the way ahead for all parties to the conflict," said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC regional director for the Middle East, who was seated between the two delegations.

UN special envoy Hans Grundberg said the deal was one of several developments that gave reason to believe things were moving "in the right direction" and towards a resolution of the eight-year conflict that was sparked by the Houthi coup against the legitimate government.

"From the discussions, I feel that there is a willingness to engage in a positive direction on trying to come to a settlement on the conflict in Yemen," he added, referring to his talks in the past week in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The government welcomed Monday’s agreement, saying the exchange will be held within three weeks.

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.

Former defense minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi; Nasser Mansour Hadi, brother of former president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi; Mohammed and Afash Saleh, relatives of Presidential Leadership Council member Tariq Saleh; four journalists who were sentenced to death by the Houthis; and 19 members of the Arab coalition forces will be released by the Houthis.

Negotiators had hoped for an "all for all" deal involving all remaining detainees during the 10 days of talks held near the Swiss capital Bern. The talks were the latest in a series of meetings that led to releases of prisoners in 2022 and 2020 under a UN-mediated deal known as the Stockholm Agreement.

A Yemeni Foreign Ministry statement urged further talks to ensure the release of remaining detainees. It also called for revealing the fate of people who have been abducted.

It praised the role played by Grundberg, the Red Cross and Arab coalition in reaching the agreement.

A joint statement from the UN and the ICRC said the parties also agreed to carry out "joint visits to each other’s detention centers and to enable access to all detainees during these visits."

"This is a crucial step that will end the suffering of many separated families and help build confidence between the parties that we hope will lead to further release operations," said Daphnée Maret, head of the ICRC delegation in Yemen.

Head of the Houthis' prisoner affairs committee Abdul Qader al-Murtada said the exchange would happen in three weeks’ time.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.