Under the auspices of the UN, a new round of Yemeni negotiations began on Saturday in Geneva to find a solution for the release of prisoners and detainees between the legitimate government and the Houthi forces.
The administration hoped that the 11-day talks would result in an accord and the release of more prisoners, kidnapped people, and captives from both sides, but it was concerned that they wouldn’t succeed given the Houthi intransigence shown in earlier rounds.
The UN envoy to Yemen, Hans Grundberg, said in a statement the seventh meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the Implementation of the Detainees’ Exchange Agreement started Saturday in Switzerland.
The Supervisory Committee is co-chaired by the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with the parties to the conflict in Yemen as members.
The Supervisory Committee was formed in 2018 to support the parties in fulfilling their obligations as per the Stockholm Agreement “release all prisoners, detainees, missing persons, arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared persons, and those under house arrest, held in relation to the conflict in Yemen, without any exceptions or conditions.”
Grundberg said he hoped the parties were “ready to engage in serious and forthcoming discussions to agree on releasing as many detainees as possible. With Ramadan approaching, I urge the parties to fulfill the commitments they made, not just to each other, but also to the thousands of Yemeni families who have been waiting to be reunited with their loved ones for far too long.”
The Yemeni government delegation arrived Friday in Geneva to attend the negotiations.
Under Secretary for the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights, Majed Fadayel, said in an official statement that the government delegation included six negotiators and would engage in negotiations under the auspices of the UN and the International Red Cross for 11 days.
Fadayel indicated the team aimed to understand the details of the previous agreement signed between the two sides, renewing the Yemeni government’s keenness to release all abductees and prisoners.
The Presidential Leadership Council and the Yemeni government issued directives to facilitate the negotiations to release all detainees and captives.
The Under Secretary asserted that the government was very keen to release all abductees and prisoners, which led to achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace.
On Thursday, the Houthi militia delegation left Sanaa to participate in the new round of negotiations.
The previous rounds of UN-sponsored negotiations led to the release of hundreds from both sides, the largest of which was the release of a batch of more than 1,000 detainees, amid hopes that the ongoing negotiations would lead to the implementation of a previous agreement to release about 2,200 people from both sides.
Meanwhile, Yemeni human rights organizations accused the Houthi militia of kidnapping about 20,000 people from all Yemeni groups.
The Yemeni Journalists Syndicate renewed its demand to release all detained and kidnapped journalists, asserting it was greatly concerned about the deteriorating conditions of the kidnapped journalists in Houthi prisons.
The Syndicate described the suffering of the abducted journalists, some of whom have been detained for eight years, as “a systematic crime and a continuous aggression against the freedom of opinion and expression.”
It demanded that the issue of the kidnapped journalists be given priority and attention, as they are civilians who have been subjected to the worst forms of torture and abuse.
The group held the UN Special Envoy to Yemen responsible for the continued suffering of the kidnapped journalists and their families, calling for the speedy release of the journalists detained by the Houthi group without restriction or condition and halting the unfair death sentences against the four journalists.