The implementation of the prisoner exchange agreement between the Yemeni government and the Saudi-Emirati coalition and the Houthi group began today, Thursday, a day after the Houthis released two American prisoners in exchange for 240 of their supporters.
A Yemeni government source said that 230 Houthi prisoners, who are a first batch, arrived at Seiyun airport in Hadramout governorate, in preparation for their transfer by an International Committee of the Red Cross plane to Sana’a airport, while another plane will transport government and coalition prisoners from Sanaa airport to Seiyun simultaneously.
“We expect the prisoner deal between the government and the Houthis to be concluded within hours, and our teams are waiting at the airports,” the International Red Cross said.
And the head of the Houthi Prisoners Affairs Committee, Abdul Qadir Al-Murtada, had previously confirmed the solution of problems that arose two days ago regarding the implementation of the deal, and procedures regarding it were completed by all parties.
For his part, Majed Fadael, a member of the government delegation, said that the deal will be implemented on time unless there is any obstruction by the Houthis, adding that among the released a number of journalists.
It is assumed that 1081 from both sides will be released in this deal, including 15 Saudis and 4 Sudanese, provided that other deals include larger numbers.
Two American prisoners
Yesterday, the Houthi group released two Americans who were in its custody in addition to the remains of a third, in exchange for the release of 240 supporters of the movement, including a number of fighters.
The mutual release took place under a deal concluded with the consent of the United States and Saudi Arabia, and mediated by the Sultanate of Oman.
US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement that his country welcomes the Houthis ’release of Sandra Lawley and Michael Jedada, adding that the body of Bilal Fateen, who died in captivity, will also be returned.
Wuli is an aid worker who was detained for three years while businessman Jaidada was held for a year.
The spokesman for the Houthi group, Muhammad Abd al-Salam, said that about 240 of the wounded and stranded Yemenis returned to Sana’a on board two Omani planes.
Abd al-Salam added that among the wounded were those who had traveled to Muscat during the Sweden consultations in September 2018.
On the other hand, Cash Patel, Deputy Assistant to the US President – who worked to complete the deal – said that Washington had made sure that the supporters of the released Houthi group did not include anyone on the US terrorist lists.
Patel added that his country had refused to return a number of people who were demanded by the Houthi group to be included in the deal, as they “pose a great danger.”