Warring sides agree to release prisoners as Yemen peace talks begin

08 Décembre, 2018, 19:32 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Delegates attend the peace talks

Among the reasons were disagreements between Saudi Arabia and Iran over staging a ceasefire, Houthi refusals to surrender major cities and the rebel's capturing of a military base north of Sanaa. The Saudis intervened the following year. The two sides might also discuss further prisoner releases.

"I'm also pleased to announce the signing of an agreement on the exchange of prisoners, detainees, the missing, the forcibly detained and individuals placed under house arrest", Griffiths said from the venue.

While the days leading up to the gathering saw the government and rebels agreeing on a prisoner swap deal and the evacuation of wounded insurgents for medical treatment in Oman, both parties dug in on their demands as the talks began.

The worldwide Red Cross said it would oversee the prisoner exchange, which is expected to take weeks.

Yemen's warring sides agreed to free thousands of prisoners on Thursday, in what a United Nations mediator called a hopeful start to the first peace talks in years to end a war that has pushed millions of people on the verge of starvation.

Saudi-led airstrikes against the rebels are compounding the misery - wiping out entire neighborhoods and destroying hospitals. It is up to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Both sides stand accused of war crimes.

The impasse is on vivid display in Hodeida, a Red Sea port city where Yemen imports 70 percent of its food and humanitarian aid. The Yemeni government is demanding the rebels withdraw.

Much of the recent fighting has been in and around the city.

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Representatives of the Houthi rebels, who control about a third of the country, including the capital, Sanaa, and the port city of Hodeidah, arrived in Stockholm after being personally escorted out of the country by the UN's special envoy, Martin Griffiths, on Tuesday.

In an interview at the agency's headquarters in Rome, Beasley says: "I'm on their back because we have access issues out into different areas throughout Yemen".

Both the internationally recognized government, which is backed by the US -sponsored Saudi-led coalition, and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels say they are striving for peace.

The cycle of violence widened to include shelling and looting of a number of civilian houses in the directorate of al-Tahita in an escalation seen as a push by the Houthis to put the legitimate government and the Arab coalition in a hard position in front of the global community which is pressing to end the war in Yemen.

It's the most positive step in years and comes as aid groups warn of worsening food shortages for millions of people. The target population includes three million women and children who need special support to prevent malnutrition, a spokesman said. Verhoosel said the rollout will require "safe, immediate and unimpeded access for food and other vital supplies".

Sweden's foreign minister who opened the talks, Margot Wallstrom, wished the Yemen adversaries strength to find "compromise and courage" as they embark on the hard task ahead.

Griffiths joined her at the presser and said that the talks represented "a milestone".

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