Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah movement has offered the Saudi-backed former government a new deal for exchange of prisoners over a week after the popular movement unilaterally released hundreds of detainees.
Head of Yemen’s National Committee for Prisoners Affairs (NCPA), Abdulqader al-Mortada, says the group has told “local mediators” that it is ready to implement a prison exchange within one week.
“We are waiting for the other side to respond,” he noted, according to a Friday report by Al Masirah TV.
The Ansarullah official said the deal offered to the other side would cover 2,000 prisoners in the “first phase”.
The offer comes days after the Houthi movement released hundreds prisoners, including three Saudi nationals, in its latest goodwill gesture.
Through the release, the Ansarullah movement and its allies in the Yemeni army sought to underline their commitment to peace negotiations held in Sweden last December.
The talks with Yemen’s Saudi-backed former government resulted in an agreement, which calls for a ceasefire in Hudaydah, a prisoner exchange and a statement of understanding on the southern city of Ta’izz.
The unilateral release of prisoners proved Ansarullah’s “credibility in implementing the Sweden agreement and we call on the other party to take a comparable step,” the NCPA head said at the time.
The released detainees were “included in the prisoner lists of the Sweden deal,” Mortada said in a press conference.
Mortada noted that the Ansarullah movement launched the initiative due to the big delay in the implementation of the prisoner swap deal.
It is the latest goodwill gesture from the Ansarullah movement which called for a cessation of strikes in September.
President of the Supreme Political Council in the Yemeni capital, Mahdi al-Mashat on September 20 said the Ansarullah movement would stop targeting Saudi territories with drones and ballistic missiles, hoping Riyadh would reciprocate the gesture.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the former regime of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 over the past four and a half years.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.