AL-MUKALLA: On the penultimate day of a prisoner transfer operation between the Yemeni government and the Houthis on Sunday, more than 190 captives, including four journalists, were released, with both parties recommitting to discuss the release of more detainees in the future.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, which aided the operation, claimed two of its chartered planes flew 105 Houthis from Marib to Sanaa, while two others flew 89 Yemeni government inmates in the opposite way, bringing the three-day operation to a close.
“Release operations have concluded successfully after three days,” the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) team in Yemen tweeted. “The ICRC and YRCS have worked tirelessly to reunite about 900 former detainees with their families, thereby taking a positive step toward peace and reconciliation in Yemen.”
Hundreds of inmates were released from Yemen’s Sanaa, Aden, Mokha, and Abha, as well as Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and Abha, during the first two days of the operation, which began on Friday.
Yemen’s government and the Houthis agreed last month in Switzerland to exchange almost 900 inmates during Ramadan and to meet again to discuss future exchanges.
The four Yemeni journalists sentenced to death by the Houthis were seen hugging their parents and children, as well as the hundreds of people that waited in line at Marib airport to greet them and the other captives who had been released.
The Houthis also freed two of former Vice President Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer’s sons. Hundreds of people greeted the liberated detainees at Sanaa International Airport.
Daphnee Maret, the director of the ICRC delegation in Yemen, released photos of former captives hugging their relatives and described the operation as “heartbreaking.”
“It’s been a trying time for everyone involved, and the joy of seeing families reunited has moved us all to tears.” Moments like these are what keep us going,” she wrote on Twitter.
Encouraged by the success of the second prisoner swap, Yemeni government and Houthi officials agreed to meet again to discuss another trade that could result in the release of an even bigger number of detainees.
According to Abdulkader Al-Murtada, the leader of the Houthis’ prisoner exchange committee, the Houthis will propose swapping 1,400 detainees with the Yemeni government at the next round of talks.
Yahya Kazman, the leader of Yemen’s delegation in prisoner exchange talks, stated that the Yemeni government was committed to swapping all detainees with the Houthis as well as cleansing jails of those who had been kidnapped or forcibly disappeared during the war.
“Our happiness will not be complete until all of our heroes are released from militia custody.” “We are steadfastly committed to the principle of all for all,” he stated.
The Yemeni prisoner swap occurred as Saudi Arabia renewed its efforts to mediate a peace accord between the Houthis and the Yemeni government, bringing an end to more than eight years of fighting.
Mohammed Al-Jaber, the Kingdom’s ambassador to Yemen, personally negotiated a peace plan with the Houthis in Sanaa last week and is set to return to the capital to resolve lingering difficulties.