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Yemen’s warring parties agree to free nearly 900 prisoners under UN deal

The Yemeni government has announced a prisoner swap deal with Houthi rebels.

“An agreement has been reached to free 887 prisoners from both sides,” Undersecretary for Human Rights Majid Fada’el told Anadolu on Monday.

He said four journalists and a number of security and military officials will be released under the deal, adding that a brother of former president Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and former defense minister Mahmoud Sobeih will also be freed.

The UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomed the prisoner swap deal between Yemen’s warring rivals.

A joint statement by the UN and ICRC said the two rivals agreed to convene in May “to discuss more releases.”

“I join hundreds of Yemeni families in looking forward to the swift and smooth implementation of the releases,” UN Special Envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg said.

ICRC head in Yemen, Daphnee Maret, said the deal would help build confidence between the Yemeni parties.

READ MORE: Warring Yemen rivals resume UN-backed talks on prisoner exchange in Geneva

Up to 2,000 prisoners to be released

“The ICRC stands ready to continue to play the role of neutral intermediary and to facilitate purely humanitarian visits in places of detention, contribute to the re-establishment of family links, and support the release, transfer and repatriation of conflict-related detainees so that thousands more can return to their families,” Maret added.

There was no comment yet from the Houthi group.

Talks for a prisoner swap between the two rivals began last week in Switzerland under UN auspices.

Last year, the two warring rivals signed an UN-brokered deal to free 2,000 prisoners, but their release was disrupted amid accusations of each party to the other of violating the agreement.

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

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