Yemen prisoner swap deal agreed in Switzerland

Demonstration in the port city of Hodeida, in Yemen. Keystone / Muhammed Muheisen

The United Nations said Yemen’s warring sides agreed on Sunday to exchange more than 1,000 prisoners, following a week of talks in Switzerland.

This content was published on September 27, 2020 - 15:49

Sunday’s deal came at the conclusion of negotiations in Glion near the Swiss city of Montreux that was co-chaired by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Representatives from the Saudi-led coalition also attended, the UN said.

“Today is an important day for over a thousand families who can expect to welcome back their loved ones hopefully very soon,” said the UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths.

The UN said the deal was built on a plan that both sides agreed on in February.

Griffiths urged both parties to “move forward immediately with the release and to spare no effort in building upon this momentum to swiftly agree to releasing more detainees.”

The prisoner swap deal was seen as a breakthrough during previous 2018 peace talks in Sweden. Both parties agreed then to several confidence-building measures, including a cease-fire in the strategic port city of Hodeida. Implementation of the tentative peace plan, however, stumbled amid ongoing military offensives and distrust between the two sides.

The conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country erupted in 2014, when Iran-allied Houthi rebels seized the capital and much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition, determined to restore the government of President Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi, launched a military intervention months later.

The war in Yemen has spawned a humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical shortages. It has killed over 100,000 people, including fighters and civilians.

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