Monday, July 8, 2024

Yemeni parties unable to agree on prisoner exchange in Muscat


Yemen’s Prisoner Exchange Talks Fail, Crushing Families’ Hopes

Yemen’s internationally recognized government and the Houthi rebels have failed to reach a new prisoner exchange deal, leaving thousands of Yemeni families devastated as they hoped for the release of their detained loved ones. The UN-brokered discussions in Muscat ended without an agreement, despite some positive progress.

The UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, acknowledged that the talks achieved a breakthrough when both parties agreed to release prominent politician Mohammed Qahtan, a point of contention between them. However, the negotiations fell short of finalizing the names of detainees set for release, prolonging the suffering of families awaiting reunification.

Accusations were made against the Houthis for attempting to derail the talks, but both sides acknowledged some breakthroughs in addressing issues concerning war prisoners and forcibly disappeared individuals. The government and the militia agreed to reconvene for further discussions in two months, aiming to expedite the process and provide relief to affected families.

Last week, the Yemeni government and Grundberg expressed optimism about the negotiation progress after the Houthis agreed to exchange Qahtan for 50 of their inmates, removing a significant obstacle. Despite the setback in reaching a comprehensive agreement, there is hope for future rounds of talks to facilitate the release of more detainees.

In a separate incident, armed Houthi fighters reportedly stormed the residence of Ahmed Ahmed Ghaleb, the governor of Yemen’s central bank in Aden, escalating tensions between the government and the rebel group. The governor’s recent actions against banking institutions in Sanaa led to the raid on his home, highlighting the ongoing power struggle in the war-torn country.

Additionally, Yemen’s Ministry of Endowments and Guidance announced that stranded Yemeni pilgrims have returned home after the Houthis allowed a Yemenia Airways jet to fly them from Jeddah to Sanaa. The Houthis’ seizure of Yemenia aircraft had trapped hundreds of pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, causing further distress and uncertainty for those seeking to return home.

Despite efforts to resolve the standoff over the captured planes, the situation remains unresolved as the conflict between the government and the rebels persists. The Houthis’ actions have been condemned as hijacking flights and exacerbating the challenges faced by Yemenis who are unable to travel due to the aircraft seizures.

As Yemen continues to grapple with political turmoil and humanitarian crises, the failure to secure a prisoner exchange deal underscores the complexities of resolving conflicts in the region. The international community must intensify efforts to facilitate dialogue and negotiations between warring factions to alleviate the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire.

Latest stories