The two parties to the conflict in Yemen said on Monday, March 20, 2023, that they had agreed to exchange about 880 prisoners, after talks in Switzerland under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The head of the Yemeni government delegation said that about 880 prisoners would be exchanged.
Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group said on Monday it would release 181 prisoners, including 15 Saudis and three Sudanese, in exchange for 706 prisoners from the government, according to two statements on Twitter by Abdul Qadir al-Murtada, head of the Houthi Prisoners’ Affairs Committee, and Mohammed Abdel Salam, the group’s chief negotiator. Neither the United Nations nor the International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed that an agreement has been reached.
It is hoped that reaching an agreement will facilitate broader efforts to end the conflict, which have been boosted by the resumption of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia this month. Hans Grundberg, the UN special envoy for Yemen, told the UN Security Council last week that there was intense diplomacy at various levels to end the fighting.
There have been discussions about the exchange of nearly 15,000 prisoners linked to the conflict as one of the main confidence-building steps under the Stockholm Agreement brokered by the United Nations in December 2018. But progress is slow; The ICRC has coordinated several exchanges, including operations in 2020 and 2022, as well as smaller agreements directly between the warring parties. The conflict in Yemen is widely seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
A Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis ousted the government from the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in 2014. A UN-brokered truce in April largely held, although it expired in October without both sides agreeing to extend it. .