News ID: 114063
Publish Date : 17 April 2023 - 22:22

ICRC: After Major Yemen Prisoner Swap, Another 104 Released

RIYADH (AFP) – More than 100 prisoners of war were flown from Saudi Arabia to Yemen on Monday, further buoying peace hopes a day after a major exchange of 869 captives ended, the ICRC said.
Two International Committee of the Red Cross planes carrying 48 prisoners each flew to Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, while a third with eight captives headed for Aden in the south, the humanitarian group said.
The “unilateral” release is outside the terms of the three-day exchange that was negotiated between Yemen’s Ansarullah and the Saudi-allied forces in the south and finished on Sunday, ICRC media adviser Jessica Moussan told AFP.
“We welcome this initiative and are pleased to see that humanitarian considerations are being taken for the sake of reuniting families,” Moussan said.
“This will bring immense relief to the families of the detainees,” she added.
The ICRC is “facilitating” the transfer by providing air transport and logistical support, and by interviewing the captives, Moussan said.
The release of 104 captives, days before the major Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, takes the total number to 973 freed since Friday.
U.S. and several Western states to reinstall Hadi, who resigned from the presidency in late 2014 and later fled to Riyadh amid a political conflict with the popular Ansarullah movement.
The war objective was also to crush the Ansarullah movement, which has been running state affairs in the absence of an effective government in Yemen.
However, it has stopped well shy of all of its goals, despite killing tens of thousands of Yemenis and turning the entire country into the scene of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
A UN-brokered ceasefire that started in April 2022 has sharply reduced casualties. The truce expired in October, but fighting has largely remained on hold.
The Saudi-led coalition’s spokesman, Turki al-Maliki, confirmed the extra releases, saying they “completed” the prisoner exchange.
This “extension of previous humanitarian initiatives” aims to help “stabilize” the lapsed truce and create an “atmosphere of dialogue”, Maliki said, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The prisoner releases come a month after Persian Gulf heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to re-establish diplomatic ties, sparking a wave of rapprochement across the troubled region.
Last week, a Saudi delegation held talks in Sana’a aimed at establishing a more durable ceasefire. The discussions ended without a truce but with an agreement to meet again.
Analysts say Saudi Arabia now accepts its prolonged military campaign will not defeat the Ansarullah forces.