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UN Secretary General Welcomes Yemeni Prisoner Release Pact

Fabrizio Carboni, Regional Director for the Near and Middle East of the ICRC, Abdulkader al-Murtada, head of the Houthi prisoner exchange committee and Hadi Haig, head of the Yemeni government delegation, in Glion, Switzerland, Sept. 27, 2020.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres says the U.N. chief “welcomes” the agreement Yemen’s warring parties have reached to exchange more than 1,000 prisoners; a move designed to revive the stalled peace process of the more than five-year-old conflict.

Stephane Dujarric said in a statement Monday that Guterres “urges the parties to build on this momentum and finalize arrangements for the release of all remaining detainees.”

The Yemeni government, which is backed by a Saudi-led military coalition, and the Houthis reached the prisoner exchange deal after meeting for more than a week in the Swiss village of Glion.

The two sides are now set to release 1,081 prisoners.

Dujarric also said Guterres is “is grateful to the International Committee of the Red Cross for its tireless efforts as co-chair of the Supervisory Committee to ensure the implementation of the prisoner release agreement brokered in Sweden in 2018, as well as to the Government of Switzerland for hosting the parties over the past week.”

Dujarric said the secretary-general is encouraging “the parties to engage with his Special Envoy to agree on a Joint Declaration encompassing a nationwide ceasefire, economic and humanitarian measures and the resumption of a comprehensive, inclusive political process to end the war.”

Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict between the Houthis and the coalition. The Houthis ousted Yemen’s internationally recognized government in 2014. The Western-backed coalition intervened in 2015.

The U.N. says the country is the site of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis where millions of people are facing famine.