Scores released as Yemen prisoner exchange continues
Sana’a, Apr 16 (EFE).- About 200 people have been flown home as Yemen’s warring factions swapped prisoners on Sunday on the third day of an operation amid peace talks to end the country’s protracted conflict.
Two planes carrying prisoners of war took off from the Houthi rebel-held capital of Sana’a and the government-controlled central city of Marib, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
A total of 107 rebels and 89 people loyal to the Saudi-backed internationally recognized Yemeni government were aboard, parties to the conflict that broke out in 2014 reported.
Among those released by the Houthi rebels are four journalists: Tawfiq Mohamed Thabet, a-Harith Saleh, Akram Saleh and Abdulkhalek Ahmed.
According to international organizations, they were kidnapped by Houthi rebels in 2015 and sentenced to death by a Houthi-linked court five years later.
Children and relatives of Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a former vice president (2016-2022) are to be on board the planes, government sources said.
ICRC spokeswoman Fatima Sator told Efe these operations are “very demanding logistically” because prisoners are transported by four planes to six cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, saying Monday will be the final day of the operation.
The ICRC is not only in charge of ensuring the transfers are carried out correctly and “neutrally,” but also in charge of checking on the detainees before they board the planes “to make sure that they are being treated with dignity,” Sator added.
Food packages are offered to those on board so they can break their fast once the sun goes down since the operation is being held during the Muslin fasting month of Ramadan, where eating and drinking are not allowed from dawn to sunset.
Some 675 prisoners have been exchanged in the first two days of the swap, the second largest since the start of the conflict in Yemen.
In 2020, Yemen’s warring parties exchanged more than 1,000 people.EFE