SANA’A (Dispatches) – Warring parties in Yemen have failed to come to agreement on a prisoner exchange after a month of discussion, the UN says.
The talks, led by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jordan since 24 January, failed to repeat a 2018 deal that saw around 15,000 prisoners changing hands.
"I am disappointed that this round of talks did not amount to what we saw in Switzerland last September which resulted in the historic release of 1056 detainees,” said the world body’s Yemen envoy, Martin Griffiths, in a statement.
"I urge the parties to continue their discussions and consultations, conclude the implementation of what they agreed to and expand the arrangements to release more detainees soon.”
"I reiterate my call for the unconditional release of all sick, wounded, elderly and children detainees as well as detained civilians, including women and journalists,” Griffiths said.
This round of prisoner swap talks commenced in Jordan last month with the aim of freeing a total of 300 prisoners, both from the Yemeni army and its allied fighters from Popular Committees and those militiamen loyal to Yemen’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, whose brother is also among the prisoners.
Abdul Qader al-Murtada, head of the Houthis’ prisoner affairs committee, tweeted that the talks failed due to intransigence on the part of Hadi’s representatives and his allies.
The development came as Yemeni troops continue with their offensive to take control of Ma’rib from Hadi’s militiamen. The city is Hadi’s last urban stronghold in northern Yemen, which is some 120 km east of the capital Sana’a.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating war on Yemen in March 2015 in order to bring Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, back to power and crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement.
Yemen’s army and allied popular forces, however, have gone from strength to strength against the Saudi-led invaders, leaving the so-called military coalition forces bogged down in Yemen.
The Saudi war and an all-out siege on the Arabian Peninsula country have made at least 80 percent of the country’s 28-million-strong population reliant on aid to survive in what the UN has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
UN agencies have already warned that around 400,000 Yemeni children under five are in danger of losing life this year due to acute malnutrition.