Politics

Yemen, Houthis exchange lists of prisoners

By Nabil Abdullah al-Tamimi in Aden

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UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer attend talks by Yemen's warring parties on a prisoner swap on February 5th, 2019 in Amman. [Khalil Mazraawi/AFP]

Delegations from Yemen's government and the Iran-backed Houthis (Ansarallah) have exchanged lists of prisoners to be released as part of the first phase of an agreement on swapping prisoners.

Negotiations on the release of prisoners began Friday (September 18th) in the Swiss town of Montreux under the auspices of UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"Each party received the lists of the other, and they are now reviewing them to present their notes," said Yemen's Deputy Minister of Human Rights Nabil Abdul Hafeez.

The two sides have agreed to exchange some 15,000 detainees as part of the Stockholm Agreement, a peace deal brokered by the UN in Sweden in 2018.

This will start with the implementation of agreements reached in February in Amman, which called for the release of 1,420 prisoners as a first phase.

"The current negotiations include presenting the names and agreeing on guarantees and measures for implementing the agreement," Abdul Hafeez said.

"The list which the government presented to the Houthis includes one of the four leaders included under UN Security Council Resolution 2216 -- Maj. Gen. Nasser Mansour, President Hadi's brother," he said.

"The Houthis had refused to release the four leaders in the first phase, but then agreed to release President Hadi's brother," he said.

"They said the other three -- former Defence Minister Maj. Gen. Mahmoud al-Sobeihi, Maj. Gen. Faisal Rajab and politician Mohammed Qahtan -- will be released separately" in each phase of the release of prisoners, he added.

"My message to the parties is: conclude discussions, release detainees swiftly, bring relief to thousands of Yemeni families," Griffiths said in a Friday social media post.

In a message delivered on Monday, the International Day of Peace, Griffiths called on the two sides to show courage in taking the first step towards peace.

"The warring parties must seriously and courageously consider their positions, in order to give Yemenis the peace which they need and deserve," he said.

"Everybody must think about the previous years which have torn Yemen apart, killed thousands and caused suffering for millions," Griffiths said.

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