Yemen’s Houthi rebels have unilaterally released 290 detainees as part of a UN peace initiative, the International Committee of the Red Cross says.
Those freed include 42 survivors of an air strike on a prison this month that killed more than 100 people.The attack was carried out by a Saudi-led coalition backing the Yemeni government in the country’s civil war.
The humanitarian organisation gave no details about the identities of the detainees, besides saying that they included survivors of the Dhamar attack.
On Sept. 1, Houthis said Saudi-led Arab coalition warplanes bombed a prison in Dhamar, killing more than 150 prisoners and wounding 50 others.
Earlier Monday, the rebel group said it set free 350 captives, including three Saudis, according to the Houthi-run Al-Masirah T.V.
The UN special envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths hailed the move and said he hoped the Houthis’ step would lead to further releases by both sides.
A prisoner swap was one of three elements of an agreement between the warring parties that was brokered by the UN in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, in December.
Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.
Since then, tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while another 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.