On Monday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that 104 Yemeni detainees released by Saudi Arabia had boarded ICRC planes and arrived in Yemen.
The move followed a large-scale three-day prisoner swap between the Yemeni government, the Saudi-led coalition, and the Houthi rebels that ended on Sunday. The ICRC facilitated the release of 104 detainees at the request of the Saudi-led coalition.
Two ICRC planes carried 96 released prisoners from Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport to Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, while another ICRC plane transported eight freed prisoners from Abha to Aden, a port city held by coalition-aligned forces in Yemen.
“I am deeply moved and proud that our teams could reunite so many detainees with their families over the last four days and we stand ready to do so for those who are yet to be released,” ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric said.
Daphnee Maret, ICRC’s head of delegation in Yemen, noted that these release operations have enabled the reunion of hundreds of families just in time for Eid celebrations, a Muslim holiday, and expressed hope that they would bring the conflict closer to an end and alleviate years of human suffering.
Earlier on Monday, Turki Al-Malki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the release was part of “efforts to stabilize the ceasefire and create an atmosphere for dialogue between the Yemeni parties in order to reach a comprehensive and sustainable political solution that ends the Yemeni crisis.”
The latest move comes amid increasing international efforts to bring peace to Yemen and end the prolonged civil war that erupted in late 2014.
On that year, the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of several northern cities and displaced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government from the capital Sanaa. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition intervened in the conflict in support of the Yemeni government in 2015.