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163 Houthi prisoners released by Arab Coalition as peace gesture

The prisoners of war have been returned to Aden and Sana'a over the course of this week, a first exchange of a new phase in Yemen
yemen consejo de gobierno

REUTERS/WAEL AL-QUBATI  -   The head of Yemen's new presidential council, Rashad al-Alimi, stands during a session of the Yemeni parliament

Saudi Arabian authorities have released and repatriated 163 Houthi prisoners of war as a gesture of good faith to unblock the civil war situation in Yemen. The Saudi-led Arab Coalition proposed this plan at the end of April, following changes of power in the political leadership of the government side in Yemen. The international community, led by France, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, applauded this action. 

A total of 163 Houthis have been released and escorted back to their home provinces in Yemen. The plan was carried out in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to the Saudi Arab News. According to information provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross, most of the Houthis have been taken to the Houthi-controlled capital, Sana'a, which has a functioning airport again since the truce between the Houthis and the Arab Coalition. The major southern port city of Aden has been the second largest destination for these prisoners. 

The Yemeni government expects the Houthi side to take similar or reciprocal action to that of the Coalition, according to Yemeni Secretary of State for Human Rights Majed Fadhail. 

The office of the UN Special Envoy for Yemen has issued a statement welcoming the step taken by the Arab Coalition. They also hope that the Houthi response to this gesture will be similar and in good faith. 

The calm in Yemen is helping the country's economy to take a breather and, above all, the humanitarian situation is not worsening. Following the change of power in Yemen's government with the removal of Hadi and the formation of the Governing Council, an Arab Coalition aid package was unblocked. The truce and de-escalation of tensions should help to bring these aid packages to fruition for the benefit of Yemen's population. 

However, much remains to be done. As far as the UN has been able to observe, there are still pockets of violence by the Houthis, supported by the Iranian government. There have been some attacks in the southern city of Taiz. 

hutíes yemen

Peace and negotiation with the Houthis is the scenario that the Arab Coalition is seeking, as can be understood from the latest steps they are taking and the way they are guiding and advising the Yemeni government. The bloody war with the Iranian-backed Houthis and their Quds forces led to a stalemate and a situation of "military equilibrium" after the bombings in Jeddah or Abu Dhabi. 

The new Governing Council, which brings together all political forces in Yemen, has a long task ahead. Hadi was an obstacle on the road to peace, but this new executive, which holds all government powers and has the backing of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is taking the first good steps towards peace in a country torn apart by seven years of war.