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Yemen gov’t, Houthi rebels start prisoner swap talks in Switzerland

UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg announced Saturday the launch of talks for a prisoner swap deal between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels.

“The seventh meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Detainees’ Exchange Agreement started today, Saturday, in Switzerland,” Grundberg’s office said in a statement.

He voiced hope that the Yemeni parties engage “in serious and forthcoming discussions” in order to reach a deal of exchanging prisoners.

“With Ramadan approaching, I urge the parties to fulfill the commitments they made, not just to each other, but also to the thousands of Yemeni families who have been waiting to be reunited with their loved ones for far too long,” Grundberg said.

The fasting month of Ramadan is set to start later this month.

The Supervisory Committee, which is co-chaired by both the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross, was formed in 2018 to help the Yemeni parties to engage in talks on the release of prisoners held by both parties. Both rivals presented lists of more than 15,000 prisoners held by them.

In March 2022, the Yemeni government and the Houthi group signed a UN-brokered prisoner swap for over 2,000 prisoners. However, their release was disrupted amid accusations of each party to the other on the deal’s unfulfillment.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014, when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa.

* Writing by Ahmed Asmar

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