Peter Kenny, GENEVA: The UN special envoy on Yemen and the International Red Cross (ICRC) on Sunday hailed the deal to swap 1,081 prisoners reached between the government and Iran-backed rebels.
Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, and Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC`s regional director for Middle East, announced the deal in the Swiss village of Glion near Geneva after four-weeks of talks.
They urged the warring parties to implement the deal immediately. The parties renewed their commitment made under their 2018 Stockholm accord, to release all prisoners, detainees, missing persons, arbitrarily detained persons, and those under house arrest.
“Today is an important day for over a thousand families who can expect to welcome back their loved ones hopefully very soon,” Griffiths said.
Carboni said: “We call on all parties to continue with the same urgency towards agreeing on a concrete implementation plan, so this operation can move from signatures on paper to reality on the ground.”
Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in March 2015 after Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, and forced President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to flee the country.
Violence has flared between the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) and government forces since the United Arab Emirates-backed group declared self-rule in Aden and other southern provinces in April.
The Riyadh Agreement was signed between the government and the STC in November following a month of fighting and included 29 terms to address the political, social, economic, and security situations in southern provinces.
Both parties, however, blamed each other for not abiding by the agreement.
The conflict has killed thousands of people, and sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.