Jordan to host UN-brokered Yemeni prisoner swap talks

Jordan to host UN-brokered Yemeni prisoner swap talks
Jordan's government has agreed to host a committee meeting between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to discuss the transfer of thousands of prisoners.
2 min read
15 January, 2019

Jordan on Tuesday accepted a UN request to host a meeting between Yemen's government and Houthi rebels to discuss a prisoner swap deal, a Jordanian foreign ministry statement said. 

The deal would allow for the reunification of thousands of family members split by Yemen's war, which escalated in March 2015.

The foreign ministry statement did not say when the meeting would take place.

Yemen's warring sides met last month in Sweden for UN-brokered peace talks that produced a fragile ceasefire around the key Red Sea port city of Hodeidah. 

The United Nations has said the truce has largely held since it came into force on 18 December but there have been delays in the agreed pullback of rebel and government forces.

The UN-backed government and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels also exhanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners who delegates to the talks say would be transferred via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport and the government-held Sayun airport.

If an agreementis reached between the two sides, the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will oversee the prisoner swap process. The ICRC has said that Saudi Arabia will also need to guarantee that air space will be secure for flights to the two airports. 

The war between the Houthis and troops loyal to the internationally-recognised government escalated in March 2015, when President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled into Saudi exile and the Saudi-led coalition intervened.

The conflict has unleashed the world's worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, which says 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine.

At least 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led coalition intervened in March 2015, although rights group maintain the actual death toll is five times higher.