Yemen govt, Houthis resume prisoner swap talks in Jordan
Sanaa, Jan 25 (IANS) The Yemeni government and Houthi rebels have resumed a new round of negotiations in Jordan on exchanging prisoners of war, Martin Griffiths, the UN Special Envoy for the war-torn country, said in a statement.
According to the statement, the fifth meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Prisoners and Detainees Exchange Agreement started on Sunday in Amman under the auspices of the world body, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The committee resumes discussions between the parties to the conflict in Yemen to discuss the release of more detainees following the release of 1,065 detainees last October,” Griffiths was quoted as saying in the statement.
“I urge the parties to prioritise in their discussions the immediate and unconditional release of all sick, wounded, elderly and children detainees as well as all arbitrarily detained civilians, including women,” the UN envoy added.
He also urged the parties “to discuss and agree on names beyond the Amman meeting lists to fulfil their Stockholm commitment of releasing all conflict-related detainees as soon as possible”.
Griffiths expressed his gratitude to Jordan for hosting the meeting.
The meeting, which came a day after the arrival of both delegations in Amman, is co-chaired by the Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
In October 2020, the Yemeni government and the Houthi rebels released a total of 1,065 prisoners from both sides, the largest UN-sponsored exchange deal between them since the outbreak of a civil war in Yemen.
A local government official in Yemen told Xinhua that “this round will be specified to discuss implementing the second part of Amman’s deal signed between the two warring rivals on February 16, 2020”.
The second part of the Amman’s deal considers releasing nearly 300 prisoners from both sides including high-ranking government officials who are still seized by the Houthis in the country’s capital Sanaa, he said.
Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthi rebels seized control of several northern provinces and forced the internationally-recognized government of Hadi out of Sanaa.
Due to the war, Yemen is facing the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
Currently, more than 24 million people, some 80 per cent of the population, in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 12 million children, according to the UN.
The World Food Programme has said that 20 million people in Yemen are suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
While two-thirds of all Yemenis are hungry, nearly half do not know when they will eat next, it added.