ALMUKALLA: At least five planes managed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday ferried 352 prisoners to Yemeni airports in the last phase of a major prisoner swap, the ICRC, local officials and residents said.
The ICRC said its planes transferred 1,056 former prisoners over two days on several flights between Aden, Sanaa and Seiyun airports.
“We’re happy to see the completion of the release and transfer of 1,056 former detainees, which was carried out with the Yemen Red Crescent and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority,” the ICRC said. “We’re encouraged by this success and hope that it leads to more steps toward the transfer and release of more detainees in the future.”
Majed Fadhail, deputy minister of human rights, told Arab News that 151 government prisoners were traded with 201 Houthis on the second day of the operation.
A day earlier, the Yemeni government traded 470 Houthis with 221 of its prisoners, including five journalists, in addition to 15 Saudis and four Sudanese, under a UN-sponsored deal. The two-day operation was described by the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, as the largest of “its kind in the history of the conflict in Yemen.”
Official media reported on Thursday that Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ordered necessary medical services for some of the released. At the same time, hundreds gathered on Friday in the government-controlled cities of Aden and Seiyun to welcome the freed prisoners. Several large buses carrying dozens of former abductees forced their way into a large number of people who were carrying the Yemeni flag and flowers.