ICRC: Yemen's Houthis unilaterally release 113 detainees

Detainees walk to attend a press conference on their release by the Houthi group in Sanaa, Yemen, May 26, 2024. [Xinhua]

Yemen's Houthi group unilaterally released 113 detainees in the Houthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa on Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

"We are pleased to see that humanitarian considerations are being prioritized, particularly for the families eagerly awaiting the return of their loved ones, especially with the approach of the Eid al-Adha celebrations in a few weeks," said Daphnee Maret, the ICRC's head of delegation in Yemen.

"We hope this paves the way for further releases," Maret said.

The ICRC said it had conducted private pre-departure interviews with the detainees to confirm their identities, and "listen to any concerns they may have about the release process, ensure they have been in contact with their families, and gather the necessary information to follow up on their condition if needed," said Alessia Bertelli, protection coordinator of the ICRC in Yemen.

The ICRC said the latest release, as well as previous ones in 2023 and 2020, is a positive step towards reviving negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis.

In April 2023, nearly 900 prisoners were released following UN-sponsored negotiations between the Yemeni government and the Houthi group. High-profile figures, including Nasser Mansour Hadi, the brother of former Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, and Mahmoud Al Subeihi, the country's former defense minister, were among those who were freed.

The UN has been making efforts to release all detainees, mostly political opponents, human rights activists and journalists, and reach a political settlement between the Yemeni warring parties.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia seized control of several northern provinces and forced the Saudi-backed internationally-recognized government out of Sanaa.

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