June 5, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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Yemen war: a major prisoner exchange raises hopes

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It is the largest prisoner exchange in more than two years

A major exchange of prisoners is taking place between the warring parties in Yemen and is seen as part of intensifying efforts to end the devastating eight-year conflict there.

Red Cross officials said 318 prisoners were transferred on four flights between the rebel-held capital, Sana’a, and government-held Aden.

It is expected to exchange 900 prisoners during the next three days.

The war between rebels and forces loyal to the Saudi-led government has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis.

It has also created what the United Nations has described as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with some 80% of the population forced to rely on food aid to survive.

The exchange – the largest since late 2020 – is seen as a confidence-building measure, following talks earlier this week in Sanaa between a Saudi delegation and Houthi rebels aimed at a new and possibly permanent ceasefire.

The talks were facilitated by Oman, which shares borders with both Saudi Arabia and Yemen and has played a key role in attempts to broker an end to the fighting for years.

Despite the failure to renew a six-month UN-brokered ceasefire in October, there has been a sharp decrease in fighting, accompanied by some steps to ease tensions. They include easing restrictions on imports and the exchange of prisoners, agreed in negotiations in Switzerland last month.

“With this act of goodwill, hundreds of conflict-torn families are being reunited during the holy month of Ramadan, giving a glimmer of hope amid great suffering,” said Fabrizio Carboni, ICRC Regional Director. ).

Yemen has been devastated by conflict that escalated in 2015, when the Houthis took control of large parts of the country’s west.

President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled abroad and a Saudi-led coalition of Arab countries intervened to restore his rule. However, years of military stalemate followed.

The fighting has reportedly left more than 150,000 people dead and more than 23 million people – three quarters of the population – in need of some form of assistance.