On Friday, a three-day exchange of prisoners between the warring factions in Yemen commenced. The exchange began with flights between the rebel-held capital of Sanaa and Aden, the temporary base of the government.
On Friday, more than 300 detainees are set to be released. Out of those, 70 individuals will be transported from Sanaa to Aden through two flights while 250 others will be sent from Aden to Sanaa using a specific mode of transportation that was not specified. Yemenia flight.
The International Committee
The International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed that the first flight from Sanaa, carrying 35 prisoners, took off at approximately 10am local time, while the second flight from Aden to Sanaa, carrying 125 prisoners, departed at 11am.
Two individuals who have been in detention since 2015 are Mahmoud Al Subeihi, a former defense minister of the country, and Nasser Mansur Hadi, the brother of former President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. among those being released from Sanaa.
Upon their arrival at around 12 pm Aden time, the former officials were greeted with a red carpet and a military salute. Videos from the airport premises showed jubilant Yemeni citizens dancing with joy.
According to a statement by UN Special Envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, this exchange of prisoners is a positive development and a symbol of hope for Yemen.
It serves as a reminder that constructive dialogue and mutual compromises can yield great results. The negotiations between the parties involved have allowed hundreds of Yemeni families to celebrate Eid with their loved ones.
Hisham Al Omeisy, a former Houthi detainee and Yemeni conflict analyst, expressed his delight at the news of the prisoner exchange, describing it as a “sight for sore eyes.”
He also shared his own experience of being reunited with his children upon his release, stating that there was no feeling in the world that could match the relief and happiness he felt.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has scheduled more flights carrying prisoners on Saturday, including flights from Sanaa to Riyadh and from Abha to Sanaa, as well as between Sanaa and the city of Mokha. On Sunday, there will be flights both ways between Marib and Sanaa. ICRC teams will accompany the detainees and address any medical needs, with the Yemen Red Crescent Society and Saudi Red Crescent Authority providing medical staff and volunteers to help infirm detainees.
The prisoner exchange is among several recent developments that have raised hopes for a long-term truce between the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, potentially leading to talks on There is a need for a political resolution to bring an end to the civil war in Yemen
Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al Jaber recently visited Sanaa along with officials from Oman to discuss renewing a UN-brokered truce that expired in October, with talks also expected to The agenda to tackle in Yemen includes the reopening of all Yemeni ports, the release of all prisoners of war, and the unification of the two central banks under both the rebel and government administrations.
Houthi officials Mohammed Al Bukhaiti and Abdulmalik Alejri expressed optimism about the negotiations, with the latter suggesting that remaining difficulties could be resolved with determination and honest intentions.
According to two anonymous Yemeni sources, there is a possibility that the parties involved could reach an agreement for an extended truce as they continue to negotiate the remaining issues.
Among the main issues being negotiated are the payment of salaries for civil servants, which the Houthis have insisted should also include armed forces. Additionally, there are discussions on the use of oil revenue and a timeline for foreign forces to leave the country, as reported by three sources familiar with the ongoing negotiations.
More than 300 prisoners will be transported via plane between two cities. Additional detainee releases are expected in various locations such as Marib, Mokha, Riyadh, and Abha, which is in the neighboring country of Saudi Arabia. This prisoner exchange is a positive development indicating a decrease in tensions after truce negotiations in Sanaa between Houthi rebels and a delegation from Saudi Arabia, which is the government’s primary military ally.
In 2014, the Iran-backed Houthis took control of Sanaa, which led to the internationally recognised government being ousted and a subsequent Saudi-led military intervention in March of the following year. The conflict has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people losing their lives due to direct and indirect causes, creating one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, as per the United Nations (UN) estimates.
Last month, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to restore official relations after a seven-year separation, a move that has quickly altered the diplomatic landscape.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), responsible for managing the process, has announced that its aircraft will transport released detainees between six Yemeni and Saudi Arabian cities.
Last month, during negotiations in Switzerland, the warring parties agreed to release 887 detainees, with plans to meet again in May to discuss further releases.
The Yemeni conflict, which has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties and has left millions in dire need of assistance, is often regarded as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. After the Iran-aligned Houthis seized control of Sana’a in 2014, a Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015.
The detainees will be transported to various cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia with the Red Cross overseeing the transfer and providing medical assistance as necessary. The Yemeni and Saudi Red Crescent will work together with the Red Cross to provide first aid services.
During the holy month of Ramadan, hundreds of families separated by the conflict will be reunited, providing a glimmer of hope amidst great suffering.
The prisoner exchange is the largest in Yemen since October 2020, when both sides released over 1,000 detainees, and it is a result of months of negotiations brokered by the United Nations. The ongoing diplomatic efforts aim to bring an end to the conflict that has left thousands of people as prisoners of war.
In 2014, the Houthis took control of Sanaa and much of Yemen’s north, sparking the conflict.