Prisoner exchange in Yemen ends after freeing over 800

Sunday, April 23, 2023

A Saudi airstrike in Sana'a, Yemen in March 2016.
Image: fahd sadi.

On April 16, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced the conclusion of a United Nations-brokered exchange of 869 prisoners between the Aden-based government and the Houthi government amid the Yemeni civil war.

ICRC flights shuttled prisoners between Houthi-controlled, Aden-controlled, and Saudi Arabian cities beginning mid-April 14.

The Associated Press reported more than 700 prisoners were Houthis and others Saudi and Sudanese soldiers of the Saudi-led coalition supporting the Aden government.

Four journalists, set to be executed by the Houthis, and Major General and former Defense Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi and Nasser Mansur Hadi, whose brother is ex-President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, were among those returned to the Aden side.

The coalition independently released 104 Houthi prisoners of war via ICRC flights on Monday, with 96 arriving in Houthi-controlled Sana'a and eight in Aden.

March negotiations near Bern, Switzerland produced the exchange and an agreement to meet again in May. The United Nations-brokered Stockholm Agreement arranged conferences which produced similar prisoner swaps in 2020 and last year.

The Houthis separately hosted Saudi representatives for peace negotiations in Sana'a through Thursday.

The civil war in Yemen began in 2014, with Reuters and the Associated Press reporting it is now seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.