Yemeni Houthi rebels release hundreds of detainees
September 30, 2019
Houthi rebels in Yemen fighting the country's Saudi-backed government have released hundreds of detainees from a Sanaa prison. The UN has said the move revives hopes for further talks in a long and bitter civil war.
Yemeni Houthi rebels on Monday released at least 290 detainees from a prison in the capital, Sanaa, as part of a UN-brokered prisoner exchange agreement between the rebels and Yemen's Saudi-backed government.
The Houthis said on Monday that they had freed 350 detainees from Sanaa's Central Prison, adding that those released were on a list that had been prepared for the UN deal.
The Red Cross said it had facilitated the release of 290 prisoners; however, more could have been freed without the aid group's involvement, according to The Associated Press.
A Houthi official in charge of prisoners' affairs told reporters in front of the prison that the move "proved" the rebels' credibility in implementing the agreement reached in Sweden in late 2018, calling on the Saudi-led coalition to "take a comparable step."
The UN's special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the unilateral release of the detainees, adding he hoped the move would "lead to further initiatives that will facilitate the exchange of all the conflict-related detainees as per the Stockholm Agreement."
"I invite the parties to meet at the nearest opportunity and to resume the discussions on future exchange," he added.