The head of Yemen’s National Committee for Prisoners Affairs (NCPA) says the Houthi movement will release 350 prisoners, including three Saudi nationals, in its latest goodwill gesture.
Through the release, the Ansarullah movement of the Houthis and their allies in the Yemeni army seek to underline their commitment to peace negotiations held in Sweden last December.
The talks with Yemenís former Saudi-backed government resulted in an agreement which calls for a ceasefire in Hudaydah, a prisoner exchange and a statement of understanding on the southern city of Ta’izz.
"Our initiative proves our credibility in implementing the Sweden agreement and we call on the other party to take a comparable step," Yemen’s al-Masirah TV quoted NCPA head Abdulqader al-Mortada as saying Monday.
"The 350 prisoners ... are included in the prisoner lists of the Sweden deal," Mortada said in a press conference.
According to the report, the prisoners will be released under the supervision of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Mortada noted that the Ansarullah movement launched the initiative due to the big delay in the implementation of the prisoner swap deal.
He said the forces of the Saudi-led coalition are continuously hindering the deal through rejecting all the initiatives and proposals put forward by the UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths who welcomed the Houthi move on Monday.
It is the latest goodwill gesture from the Ansarullah movement which called for a cessation of strikes earlier this month.
President of the Supreme Political Council in the Yemeni capital Mahdi al-Mashat on September 20 said the Ansarullah movement would stop targeting Saudi territories with drones and ballistic missiles, hoping Riyadh would reciprocate the gesture.
Mashat on Wednesday reiterated the Yemeni forces’ willingness to end hostilities with Saudi Arabia provided that the kingdom stops its years-long aggression against the impoverished country.
He regretted the fact that the Saudis "irresponsibly" continue to pound various parts of Yemen even after the Houthis put forth their peace offer.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing a former regime back to power.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the war has claimed more than 91,000 over the past four and a half years.
The war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure, destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN says over 24 million Yemenis are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including 10 million suffering from extreme levels of hunger.