Yemen govt, rebels reach agreement on large prisoner swap

Houthis and the govt of Yemen have been at war for years. (AFP pic)

DUBAI: The internationally recognised government of Yemen and Houthi rebels agreed on a detailed plan to release some of the thousands of prisoners taken captive in their five-year civil war.

A spokesman for the Iran-backed rebels, Mohammed Abdusalam, said Sunday that the agreement reached in Jordan would involve the swap of 1,400 prisoners, including Saudis and Sudanese supporting Yemen government forces.

Implementation would be a rare fulfilment of provisions of a 2018 blueprint for ending the war, which has touched off the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“Today, despite ongoing clashes, we saw that the parties have found common humanitarian ground that will allow many detainees to return to their loved ones,” said Franz Rachenstein, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a.

“This is very encouraging and will hopefully lay the ground for further releases in a near future.”

A coalition led by Saudi Arabia entered the Yemen war in March 2015 after Houthis took control of Sana’a the previous year.