Yemen talks start in Jordan on prisoner swap deal

Delegates from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government met in the Jordanian capital to discuss the swap. (AP/Raad Adayleh)
Updated 17 January 2019

Yemen talks start in Jordan on prisoner swap deal

  • The agreed prisoner swaps are planned to take place at two airports
  • As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap

AMMAN: Yemen’s warring sides started talks in Amman on Wednesday on how to implement a prisoner exchange that will allow thousands of families to be reunited as part of UN-led peace efforts, UN officials and delegates said.
Delegates from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government met in the Jordanian capital to discuss the swap, which was agreed in UN-led talks in Sweden in December.
“The two parties exchanged the list of prisoners in Sweden and they’re now discussing steps to implement it,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, have pressed the two sides to agree confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people.
As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap that delegates said would be conducted via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.
The measures also included a plan to withdraw from the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.
Hadi Haig, the head of the Yemen government delegation, said the two sides were verifying the prisoner lists as part of a five-stage process before the swap takes place.
The swap would be overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The operation will require the Saudi-led coalition to guarantee that air space is secure for flights, the ICRC said.


Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

Updated 13 min 50 sec ago

Libyan navy says more than 300 migrants rescued

  • 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea
  • It came days after Libyan navy patrols “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats

TRIPOLI: The Libyan navy said Sunday 335 migrants had been rescued and one body recovered in separate operations off the coast, as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
Nine children were among 57 migrants in a wooden boat rescued Saturday about 40 nautical miles from the town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem told AFP.
He said they were from Ethiopia and Egypt.
It came days after Libyan navy patrols on Tuesday “rescued 278 migrants on board four inflatable boats northwest and northeast of Tripoli,” Kacem added.
The operations took place off the coasts of the cities of Khoms, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Tripoli, and Sabratha, located 70 kilometers west of the capital.
According to the statement, 128 Sudanese were in the boats, in addition to migrants from Chad, Egypt, Niger, Benin and Eritrea, including 35 women and 11 children.
One body was also recovered by the coast guard.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed dictator Muammar Qaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa.
In general, migrants rescued at sea are first met by humanitarian agencies that provide medical care and food.
They are then taken into the charge of the body working to combat immigration at the interior ministry of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord.
On August 9, the Libyan navy accused the authorities of failing to manage migrants rescued at sea, claiming that it could be forced to let people go free once brought back to land.
Despite the risks, migrants continue to attempt to reach Europe by sea, preferring to take their chances than stay in Libya, where they are subject to abuse, extortion and torture, according to humanitarian organizations.