World, Middle East

Yemen rebels say no messages on full prisoner exchange

Houthi rebel group says it will accept such a humanitarian agreement

Aziz Al-Ahmadi   | 05.05.2021
Yemen rebels say no messages on full prisoner exchange

SANAA, Yemen

The Houthi rebel group said Wednesday it had not received any message from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) regarding a full prisoner exchange with the Yemeni legitimate government and Saudi-led coalition.


“The month of Ramadan is nearing the end, and we have not received any message from the ICRC on the full prisoner exchange,” Muhammad Ali Al-Houthi, the head of the group’s Supreme Revolutionary Committee, said on Twitter.


Al-Houthi, however, renewed his group’s call for a full prisoner swap with the Saudi-led coalition and Yemeni government provided “they are serious."


“It is appropriate that this [prisoner swap] takes place to allow prisoners to return to their families with the advent of Eid al-Fitr,” he added, pointing out that “nothing” prevents such a humanitarian agreement.


On April 22, Yemen’s legitimate government expressed its readiness for a full exchange of prisoners with the Houthi group, calling for a clear mechanism from the office of the UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to implement the operation.


On Feb. 21, the Yemeni government and the Houthi group traded accusations over the failure of negotiations brokered by the UN and ICRC to exchange prisoners, about three weeks since the talks kicked off in the Jordanian capital, Amman.


In December 2018, government representatives and Houthi rebel leaders held UN-brokered talks in Stockholm, Sweden, which yielded a cease-fire agreement and the swapping of prisoners in the coastal city of Al-Hudaydah.


A deal was struck in Switzerland in September 2020, and hundreds of fighters from both sides returned home the following month in the largest handover since the beginning of the war.


There is no accurate count of the number of prisoners on both sides as they continue capturing each other’s prisoners.


Yemen has been engulfed by violence and chaos since 2014, when Iran-aligned Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.


*Writing by Ibrahim Mukhtar

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