Yemen’s Huthi rebels have freed 290 prisoners, including dozens of survivors from a Saudi-led coalition strike on a detention centre earlier this month, the ICRC said yesterday.
The International Committee of the Red Cross hailed the move as “a positive step that will hopefully revive the release, transfer and repatriation of conflict-related detainees” under a deal struck last year between the rebels and Yemen’s government.
The Huthis recently announced the capture of hundreds of Yemeni loyalist forces in an August offensive near the Saudi border, but they were not among those freed on Monday.
The United Nations’ special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the initiative to “unilaterally release detainees”.
“I hope this step will lead to further initiatives that will facilitate the exchange of all the conflict-related detainees as per the Stockholm Agreement,” Griffiths said, referring to the 2018 accord.
He called on all parties to work together to speed up the release of prisoners, saying they and their families had “endured profound pain and suffering.”
In a statement, he urged the parties to meet at the “nearest opportunity” to resume discussions on future exchanges.
The Huthis’ own announcement on the prisoner release said there were 350 in the group, including three Saudis.
Mortaza reiterated Huthi claims that they had taken prisoner more than 2,000 fighters, including Saudi soldiers, in the August offensive near the southern Saudi region of Najran.
Footage aired by the Huthis on Sunday, which had been billed as showing proof of the mass capture, was short on details.