Saudi to unilaterally release detainees to Yemen after prisoner swap

Saudi Arabia on Monday will release a number of detainees to Yemen, the International Committee of the Red Cross said, in a unilateral move that follows three days of simultaneous detainee exchanges between the warring parties in Yemen's conflict.

A three-day operation overseen by the ICRC to return nearly 900 detainees held in relation to the conflict ended on Sunday, a significant confidence-building measure amid peace talks between Saudi envoys and Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group.

The Houthis' deputy foreign minister on Twitter said 104 Yemenis being held in Saudi Arabia would on Monday be released outside of that main prisoner exchange deal.

Warring parties agreed at negotiations in Switzerland last month to free 887 detainees and to meet again in May to discuss further releases.

Negotiators had hoped for an "all for all" deal involving all remaining detainees during talks, the latest in a series of meetings that led to releases of prisoners in 2022 and 2020 under a UN-mediated deal known as the Stockholm Agreement.

ICRC planes carried the released detainees between six cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia over the three-day release.

"Any respite for an exhausted population, including through release operations like these, is something to be supported. But ultimately, only a political solution will end the suffering in Yemen", said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC's regional director.

(Cover: A Yemeni conflict detainee is hugged by his relatives after he was freed in a prisoner exchange between warring sides at the Sana'a International Airport on April 16, 2023 in Sana'a, Yemen. /CFP)

Source(s): Reuters

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