The International Community of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday it repatriated 128 Houthi rebel detainees from Saudi Arabia to the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which is held by the Houthi group since 2014.
“We are repatriating 128 detainees from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Sanaa,” the ICRC said on its Twitter account.
The International Committee welcomed the Saudi initiative saying: “We welcome this initiative and are pleased to see humanitarian considerations taken into account for the sake of the families waiting for their loved ones to return home”.
Earlier on Thursday, the UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths thanked Saudi Arabia for its announcement to release “200 Houthis” and the opening of Sanaa airport for mercy flights that would allow Yemenis to receive much-needed medical treatment abroad.
Yet, no further information has been received on the time of releasing the rest of the detainees.
Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.
Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.
- Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara
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