Yemen’s Houthi movement expressed its willingness to engage in a comprehensive prisoner exchange with the Yemeni government, said Abdul Qader al Murtaza, chairman of the Houthi administration's Committee for Prisoner Affairs.
"We confirm our readiness to enter into a broad local exchange deal involving Mahmoud al-Subaihi [former defence minister] and Nasser Mansour Hadi [brother of the Yemeni president] and other leaders," al Murtaza said in a tweet.
Al Murtaza pointed out that what prompted the group to announce the initiative is what he described as the UN’s weakness and absence of pressure on the prisoner file.
The two sides of the Yemeni war often send local authorities such as sheikhs and tribal dignitaries to hold bilateral meetings that arrange a prisoner swap deal.
Maged Ali Fadail, Yemen’s deputy minister of human rights said the government was ready for any exchanges.
The Houthis have been holding Nasser Hadi, brother of the Yemeni president, and former Yemeni Defence Minister Mahmoud al-Subaihi since 2015. Last October, the Yemeni government and the Houthis exchanged 1,056 prisoners on both sides but subsequent efforts have failed to be comprehensive enough to release a large number of prisoners.
During talks in Sweden in 2018, the two sides exchanged lists of more than 15,000 prisoners. No accurate count of the number of prisoners is currently available. It is expected that more Houthi fighters and government soldiers have been captured since 2018.