Middle East

Yemeni government, Houthis begin prisoner swap

1st group of 230 Houthi prisoners reach Seyoun Airport in eastern Hadhramaut region

15.10.2020
Yemeni government, Houthis begin prisoner swap

SANAA, Yemen

The Yemeni government and the Houthi rebel group exchanged prisoners in line with a swap deal between them, a Yemeni government source said on Thursday.

“A group of 230 Houthi prisoners arrived at Seyoun Airport in Hadhramaut region on Thursday,” said the source, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.

The Houthi prisoners are supposed to be moved to the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which is under the Houthis’ control since September 2014, by a plane of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Abdul Qader al-Murtada, the head of the Houthis' prisoner affairs committee, confirmed that the swap deal will be implemented as scheduled on Thursday and Friday.

On Sept. 27, a joint statement by the ICRC and the UN announced a deal in Geneva between the Houthis and the Yemeni government to exchange 1,081 prisoners, including 15 Saudis and four Sudanese.

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

The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis, including civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which has led to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as millions remain at risk of starvation.

* Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

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