Peace in Yemen One Step Closer After Historic Prisoner Exchange
The Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen and the rebel Houthis completed a three-day prisoner exchange on April 16. Close to 900 prisoners have been exchanged between the two warring sides through mid-April. The exchange is the result of an agreement reached in Switzerland in March as part of a round of ongoing peace and reconciliation talks between the Houthis and Saudi Arabia—the primary supporter of the Yemeni government.
The historic peace talks are seen as a result of the rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia brokered by China. A resolution toward ending the years-long war in Yemen was reportedly one of the key issues in the Saudi-Iran rapprochement.
The prisoner exchange has been widely recognized as an important step towards peace in a war that has already claimed over 1.5 million lives, according to the Houthi-backed administration in Sana’a, and displaced millions. As a consequence of the Saudi-imposed blockade, millions of people, including at least 2.2 million children, have also suffered from acute malnutrition and hunger.
UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, who helped broker the prisoner exchange agreement in Switzerland, commented, “This release operation comes at a time of hope for Yemen as a reminder that constructive dialogue and mutual compromises are powerful tools capable of achieving great outcomes. Today, hundreds of Yemeni families get to celebrate Eid with their loved ones because the parties negotiated and reached an agreement. I hope this spirit is reflected in ongoing efforts to advance a comprehensive political solution.”
On Prisoners’ Day, Palestinians Stand in Solidarity With Their 5,000 Comrades in Israeli Occupation Jails
On April 16, the eve of Prisoners’ Day, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society (PPS) stated that a jailed Palestinian, Khader Adnan, is in a critical state and needs immediate hospitalization. Adnan is currently on an indefinite hunger strike against his unlawful detention by the Israeli occupation forces.
Adnan, aged 45, has completed over 70 days of his hunger strike and is currently inside Israel’s notorious Ramla prison clinic, despite repeated appeals to shift him to a proper hospital. The PPS claimed that Adnan is already suffering from serious health issues and “Israel’s refusal to move him to a hospital aims at causing him chronic diseases that are difficult to treat later.”
Adnan has been arrested 12 times in the last 20 years and has spent over eight years altogether in Israeli administrative detention. He has been on hunger strike since the beginning of his present incarceration, in the first week of February. This is his sixth hunger strike and his longest so far.
Palestinians mark Prisoners’ Day every year on April 17 to express solidarity with their freedom fighters inside Israeli prisons. According to a joint report published on the occasion, there are around 4,900 Palestinians inside different Israeli prisons, including 31 women and 160 children.
Most Palestinian prisoners face widespread atrocities from the Israeli prison authorities, including denial of family meetings, restrictions on interactions with other prisoners, and torture.