The International Committee for the Red Cross announced that an exchange of over 800 prisoners connected to Yemen’s long-running conflict began on Friday.
On Friday, 318 detainees have been released. A total of 869 are expected to be freed over a three-day period.
Sanaa, the capital of Yemen under the Houthi’s control, was greeted with a band, dancers and family members wearing ribbons in the colors of the Yemeni Flag.
Houthi leaders also hugged and kissed the detainees.
The exchange is expected to be the largest since the Saudi Arabian led coalition and the Iranian-backed Houthi Rebels released over 1,000 people in October 2020.
Fabrizio carboni, regional director of the Red Cross, said that the release of the prisoners “gives momentum” to efforts to end this war. However, it is believed that there are still thousands of other prisoners of war.
Carboni said to journalists that the violence would not return.
When did the conflict in Yemen start?
The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 , when the Iranian Houthis captured Sanaa and a large part of the north. The government fled first to the south, and then went into exile in Saudi Arabia.
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After the takeover, a Saudi-led alliance intervened months later. The conflict became a proxy war in the region between Saudi Arabia (and Iran), with US intelligence support to Saudi Arabia.
The US has withdrawn its support for Saudi Arabia after international criticism of the airstrikes that killed civilians.
More than 150 000 people, both soldiers and civilians have died in the conflict, making it one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes on the planet. 80% of Yemeni’s population is dependent on humanitarian assistance.
What is the new deal?
In the deal, the Houthis are required to release over 180 prisoners including Saudi and Sudanese soldiers fighting with the Saudi led coalition and four Yemeni Journalists.
Amnesty International described the trial as “grossly unjust” by Amnesty International. The journalists had been detained and sentenced to die by a Houthi court in recent years.
The deal includes the release top military officials who have been held by the Houthis from the beginning of the war.
Nasser Mansour Hadi was the brother of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi who served as former president of Yemen.
According to rebels, in return for the Saudi-led coalition, and the Yemeni government, more than 700 Houthis are to be released.
It follows a deal made last month, which saw 80% of Yemeni’s population relying on humanitarian aid. rel=”noopener” target=”_blank”>Saudi Arabia and Iran restore ties, which invigorated hopes of a negotiation settlement.