Left Menu
Development News Edition

UN: Warring parties in Yemen agree on major prisoner trade

PTI | Cairo | Updated: 16-02-2020 22:21 IST | Created: 16-02-2020 22:08 IST
UN: Warring parties in Yemen agree on major prisoner trade
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

Yemen's warring sides have agreed to implement a long-delayed and major prisoner swap, the United Nations said on Sunday, in a sign that talks to end the disastrous war between the country's internationally recognized government and its Houthi rebels could be making progress. It would be the "first official large-scale" exchange of its kind since the beginning of the conflict, according to the UN.

The prisoner swap deal was seen as a breakthrough during the 2018 peace talks in Sweden. The Houthis and the internationally recognized government agreed then to several confidence-building measures, including a cease-fire in the strategic port city of Hodeida.

Implementation of the tentative peace plan stumbled amid ongoing military offensives and a deep-seated distrust between the two sides. The conflict also has been a theater for the regional rivalry between Iran, which backs the Houthi rebels, and Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government.

The UN mission in Yemen said that both the rebels and the Yemeni government had decided to "immediately begin with exchanging the lists for the upcoming release" of prisoners. Sunday's statement came after seven days of meetings between the two sides in Jordan's capital, Amman.

"Today the parties showed us that even with the growing challenges on the ground, the confidence they have been building can still yield positive results," the UN envoy Martin Griffiths said. The talks were co-chaired by Griffiths' office and the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC.

Griffiths urged both parties to move forward with the agreed-upon prisoner exchange "with the utmost sense of urgency." He did not elaborate when they would start the exchange. Franz Rauchenstein, the head of the ICRC in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, welcomed the step as "encouraging."

"Today, despite ongoing clashes, we saw that the parties have found common humanitarian ground that will allow many detainees to return to their loved ones," Rauchenstein said. The war in Yemen has also spawned the world's worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages.

It has killed over 100,000 people, including fighters and civilians, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, which tracks violence reports in Yemen. Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam said they would release 1,400 prisoners including Saudis and Sudanese.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdullah al-Hadrami said he welcomed the "phased agreement" to release prisoners, in a tweet Sunday. The breakthrough in talks came after another weekend of violence in Yemen.

Strikes on Saturday killed more than 30 civilians in the mountainous northern Yemeni Jawf province, the UN humanitarian chief for the country said. The Houthis accused the Saudi-led coalition of launching retaliatory airstrikes after they shot down a coalition warplane over Jawf.

The renewed clashes threatened to overshadow the hopes raised by back-channel talks in the Gulf state of Oman between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis. The talks focus on interim agreements, such as re-opening Yemen's main international airport in Sanaa, which was shut down by the Saudi-led coalition in 2016.

In a sign of progress, two United Nations flights ferrying dozens of seriously ill Yemenis abroad for treatment took off last week from the rebel-held capital, the first since the start of the air blockade. The conflict in the Arab world's poorest country erupted in 2014 when the Iran-allied Houthis seized the capital and much of the country's north.

A Saudi-led coalition, determined to restore the authority of Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Hadi's government, launched a military intervention months later.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Rethinking Rural Livelihoods in the Times of COVID-19

The reverse migration caused by COVID 19 pandemic has put an additional burden of about one crore people on Indian villages particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Odisha. Besides increasing the risk of spreading the ...

‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Videos

Latest News

Olympics-Tokyo to skip one-year countdown event - report

Organisers of the postponed Tokyo Summer Olympics have decided not to hold a large scale event marking the one year countdown to the Games because of the coronavirus pandemic, public broadcaster NHK reported on Friday. Organisers are seekin...

EXCLUSIVE-Pompeo calls Nasdaq's strict rules a model to guard against fraudulent Chinese companies

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday warned American investors against fraudulent accounting practices at China-based companies and said the Nasdaqs recent decision to tighten listing rules for such players should be a model for ...

U.S. warship sails through Taiwan Strait on Tiananmen anniversary

A U.S. warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the U.S. and Taiwanese militaries said, on the same day as the 31st anniversary of Chinas bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Tiananmen Square....

White House, on Tiananmen anniversary, urges China to respect human rights

The White House, in a statement on the 31st anniversary of Chinas Tiananmen Square crackdown, urged Beijing on Thursday to respect human rights, fulfill its commitments on Hong Kong and end persecution of ethnic and religious minorities.The...

Give Feedback