Yemen’s foreign minister, said Tuesday, that, his internationally recognised government has received 54 child prisoners, who had been captured by Saudi Arabia, in order to free them.

Abdul Malik al-Mikhlafi, head negotiator of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government delegation in Kuwait, tweeted through his official twitter account that, “the Yemeni government appreciates that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the coalition released the Yemeni children and handed them over to the Yemeni government.”

“The children, whom the Houthis used during the war, are aged between eight and 17-years-old. They will be released along with those released in Marib,” al-Mikhlafi said, referring to six child prisoners, who were already released by the Yemeni government earlier, in the province of Marib, north-east of the Houthi-held capital city, Sanaa.

He said, “The children released, highlights the government’s rejection of the Houthi’s use of children in wars, and the government’s commitment to international laws.”

On Monday, the UN envoy to the Yemeni conflict, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who is in charge of the ongoing peace talks between Hadi’s Saudi-backed government and the Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi group, said that, all Yemeni warring parties have agreed to the unconditional release of child soldiers.

There was no immediate response from the Houthis.

However, last week, Hadi’s government, as well as, the Houthis, submitted lists of approximately 7,000 prisoner-release requests, including political detainees, to UN mediators.

Government officials accused the Houthis and former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party, of detaining over 4,000 prisoners, mostly politicians and activists.

The UN’s latest report accused both the Yemeni warring parties of using child soldiers, and UNICEF reported that 900 children were killed, whilst 1,300 were wounded during the 2015 conflict.

The Iran-allied Shiite Houthi group, supported by forces loyal to Saleh, advanced from their stronghold in the far north of the province of Saada, storming through the capital Sanaa and other cities, in Sept, 2014, dissolving the Saudi-backed government, along with President Hadi, based on combating “corruption” allegations.

The Saudi-led air force coalition intervened in Mar, 2015, vowing to reinstate Hadi to power and reclaim Sanaa.

So far, Hadi and his government are still in exile, in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh.

The civil war has escalated since then, leaving over 6,000 dead so far, in ground battles and air strikes, half of whom are civilians.

The ongoing conflict has also forcibly displaced over 2.4 million people from Yemen.

The warring parties have now been in talks in Kuwait since Apr, under the UN’s auspices, to end over one year of war.

Last month, delegates from both sides agreed in Kuwait, to a considerable prisoner exchange before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

However, the process failed, and so far, only child soldiers have been released by the government.

The government demands that Houthis and Saleh’s delegates comply with the UN’s Security Council Resolution 2216, which orders their withdrawal from the capital city of Sanaa, and their complete disarmament, in order to end the war.

The demand has so far been rejected by the Houthis, as well as, Saleh.


Source: Nam News Network