Plane carrying released Houthi prisoners arrives in Yemen from Saudi Arabia

As part of a UN-brokered truce, more than 100 captives will be released

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A plane carrying Houthi prisoners arrived in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, the Red Cross said on Friday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross is arranging the transfer of at least 100 prisoners to Yemen on three flights, AP reported.

The first plane with released Houthi prisoners left Saudi Arabia for Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition said earlier on Friday, thanking the Red Cross for its role in co-ordinating their return.

The official Saudi Press Agency later posted a video on Twitter of prisoners aboard a second flight to Yemen, showing Houthi prisoners waving white roses in celebration as a Red Cross worker walked up and down the aisles of the aircraft.

The coalition had previously announced the decision to release 163 Houthi prisoners as part of the UN-brokered truce between the two sides.

The return of the prisoners was completed on Friday, SPA said on Twitter.

The move is part of terms to end the crisis in Yemen, achieve peace and pave the way for dialogue between the parties, coalition spokesman Brig Gen Turki Al Malki said, the SPA reported.

The April 2 truce is the first nationwide ceasefire in the war-torn nation in six years.

Its terms include allowing fuel imports into Houthi-held areas and some flights operating from the airport in Sanaa.

The flights, though, have yet to start, with the Saudi Arabian-backed authorities insisting all passengers carry government-issued passports.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthis on Friday's release, or clarification on how the prisoners would make their way back to Houthi territory.

Aden is controlled by the country’s internationally recognised government.

The last major prisoner exchange, involving about 1,000 detainees, took place in 2020 as part of confidence-building steps agreed at previous peace talks in 2018.

The civil war in Yemen began in 2014, when the Iran-backed Houthis seized Sanaa and forced the internationally recognised government into exile.

The Saudi Arabian-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to try to restore the government to power.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the conflict, including more than 14,500 civilians.

The war has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with millions suffering from widespread hunger.

The UN has issued warnings of a worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen but said the truce could help to reverse the crisis.

Updated: May 06, 2022, 3:28 PM
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