Sana’a/Geneva, Sept 27 (efe-epa).- The Yemeni government and the Iranian backed Shiite Houthi rebels have agreed to exchange over 1,000 prisoners, United Nations special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths announced on Sunday.
“Releasing 1,081 individuals would and indeed will be the largest release operation during the history of the conflict of Yemen,” Griffiths said during a press conference in Geneva, where both parties have held talks.
The Houthi rebels said that after the talks, held under the watchful eye of the UN, they signed an agreement to release 681 of the government’s prisoners as well as 400 detained Houthis, including 15 Saudis and four Sudanese.
The exchange process is set to begin on 15 October with the International Committee of the Red Cross completing the arrangements within the following two weeks, the statement added.
This is the first phase of the implementation of the 2018 Stockholm agreement that stipulates the release of 16,000 prisoners from both sides.
“It is essential now to move swiftly and decisively towards implementing and we have no time to waste,” Griffiths said.
“I call on you to build on this very important achievement and to move together towards a negotiated solution for lasting peace in Yemen,” the UN envoy added.
The International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed the agreement.
“As a neutral intermediary, we are happy to bring our expertise and experience in facilitating detainees’ releases and repatriation to the table and are ready to assist with the release once the implementation plan has been agreed,” Fabrizio Carboni, President of the ICRC said.
He considered the deal to be “a very positive step” encouraging the warring parties to move forward with the deal.