Saudi coalition transfers Yemeni prisoners as part of truce

AP , Friday 6 May 2022

The Red Cross said Friday that a plane carrying Yemeni prisoners held by the Saudi-led coalition has arrived in the southern city of Aden, as a truce between the warring parties enters its second month.

Saudi Arabia
Houthi prisoners board a plane before heading to Sanaa airport after being released by the Saudi-led coalition in a prisoner swap, at Sayoun airport. (Reuters)

The International Committee of the Red Cross is facilitating the transfer of at least 100 prisoners back to Yemen on three flights, said Basheer Omar, ICRC Yemen spokesman.

The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said last week that it would release 163 prisoners to its rivals _ the Iran-backed Houthi rebels _ in support of a ceasefire agreement between them. The agreement, brokered by the United Nations, aims to pave the way to an end for the 8-year-old war.

There was no immediate comment from Houthi authorities on the release, or clarification on how the prisoners would make their way back to their territories. Aden, in the country's south, is controlled by the country's internationally recognized government.

Videos aired on the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel showed men dressed in white robes getting off a Red Cross airplane and holding flowers inside the Aden airport.

The truce, which went into effect on April 2, is the first nationwide cease-fire in Yemen in six years. It came amid concerted international and regional efforts to find a settlement to a conflict that has devastated the Arab World's poorest country and pushed it to the brink of famine.

But the full agreement has yet to be implemented. In late April, both sides of the war failed to operate the first commercial flight in six years from the rebel-held capital of Sanaa. Houthi and coalition authorities have reported almost daily violations of the cease-fire, especially around the government-held central city of Marib, which the Houthis have attempted to seize for over a year.

Yemen's brutal civil war erupted in 2014, when the Iranian-backed Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, and forced the government into exile. The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try restore the government to power.

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