UN welcomes Saudi release of Houthi prisoners in Yemen

Dozens of rebel prisoners released by Saudi-led coalition.

UN welcomes Saudi release of Houthi prisoners in Yemen

UN envoy to Yemen Hans Grundberg on Saturday welcomed the release of Houthi prisoners by the Saudi-led coalition.

On Friday, dozens of Houthi prisoners were freed as part of a humanitarian initiative by Saudi Arabia to “support peace efforts” in Yemen, according to the Saudi state news agency SPA.

"I welcome the release of detainees by the Saudi-led coalition, and the earlier releases of detainees by Ansar Allah (Houthi rebels) as well as the Government of Yemen. Last month, the parties agreed through my Office on another exchange of detainees,” Grundberg said in a statement.

The UN envoy urged “the parties to agree on the details of the release, so that Yemeni families may be reunited as soon as possible.”

He also praised the release of Houthi prisoners as “an important step toward fulfilling commitments made in Stockholm to release all conflict-related detainees”, while also extending his thanks to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for their “valuable role” in facilitating the release of prisoners.

Last month, Grundberg announced a "long overdue" two-month truce between Yemen’s warring rivals, under which all offensive military air, ground, and maritime operations were halted.

Yemen has been engulfed by violence and instability since 2014 when Iranian-aligned Houthi rebels captured much of the country, including the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led coalition entered the war in early 2015 to restore the Yemeni government to power.

The 7-year conflict has created one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with millions suffering from hunger.