Hailed as a “very important milestone” toward building peace in Yemen, the warring parties in the country’s civil war exchanged hundreds of prisoners in October 2020.
The breakthrough came during negotiations sponsored by the United Nations in Switzerland in September 2020. It was the largest release of prisoners of war by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia and the legitimate government of Yemen since the conflict began in 2015.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres thanked the International Committee of the Red Cross for helping oversee the prisoner exchange. About 680 rebels were released and flown to the city of Sanaa, under the control of the Houthis. In return, 400 war captives affiliated with the legitimate government were flown to the city of Aden. The Houthis also released two American hostages, and 200 Houthi supporters were allowed to return home from Oman.
The war in Yemen has left more than 100,000 dead and caused physical, social and economic devastation across much of the country. In July 2020, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) launched a three-year Economic Recovery and Livelihoods Program for Yemenis worth $27.4 million. The money will help support farmers, fishermen, and small- and medium-size businesses.
Additionally, Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi, permanent representative of Saudi Arabia to the U.N., announced that KSRelief — the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center — would contribute $20 million to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The humanitarian aid is designed to help hundreds of thousands of displaced Yemenis. Sources: United Nations, BBC, Elaph.com, USAID