SANA’A (Dispatches) – Yemen’s warring parties have completed the largest prisoner-swap since the Saudi regime and its allies launched a devastating war on the country, with Houthi Ansarullah movement releasing militants affiliated with the former regime.
More than 1,000 people were released and transported to their homes over the two-day exchange – completed on Friday.
The Ansarullah movement said 671 prisoners arrived in the capital Sana’a during the process.
The swap has been two years in the making, with rival sides initially agreeing to it in December 2018 as part of the UN-sponsored Stockholm Agreement, many parts of which have not seen any progress.
Delegates representing the former regime and Ansarulla movement finalized the details for this agreement last month after UN-brokered talks in Switzerland.
Ansarullah official Abdel-Qader al-Mortada said that the two sides had already agreed on another swap and are currently waiting for the UN to decide where they can meet to finalize the details.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the exchange of detainees, calling it an "important step” in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement.
Guterres also urged the parties "to finalize the joint declaration, consisting of a nationwide ceasefire, economic and humanitarian measures, as well as the resumption of a comprehensive, inclusive political process to end the war”, according to a statement by his spokesperson.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which facilitated the transfer and release of detainees, said 11 flights took off or landed at five different cities: Yemen’s Sana’a, Seiyun and Aden; and Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh and Abha.
ICRC synchronized the planes as they left from their respective cities to ensure both rivals it would be a fair exchange.