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Latest Developments in Yemen

Context:

Hundreds of prisoners captured during the war in Yemen were reunited with their families  amid diplomatic efforts to halt the conflict. The main warring sides in Yemen are the Iran-backed Houthis and the pro-Yemen government, Saudi-led coalition.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Prisoner swap
  2. Yemen Prisoner Swap and Stockholm Agreement
  3. Background and Causes of the Yemen War
  4. Impact of the war in Yemen

About Prisoner swap

  • A prisoner swap, also known as an exchange of prisoners, is an agreement between two parties to release detained individuals in exchange for each other.
  • In this scenario, each party typically agrees to release a certain number of prisoners, and the swap is often negotiated through diplomatic channels or intermediaries.
  • The purpose of a prisoner swap is usually to secure the release of individuals who are being held in foreign countries or by hostile groups, often in the context of a larger political conflict.
  • Prisoner swaps have been used in various conflicts throughout history, including in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia.
  • While they can be controversial, some argue that they can be an effective tool in resolving conflicts and improving relations between nations or groups.

Yemen Prisoner Swap and Stockholm Agreement

Yemen recently saw a large-scale prisoner swap between the warring parties, as a result of an agreement reached in March 2021. Here are some key points about the swap and the agreement that led to it:

Prisoner Swap:
  • The two sides agreed in March 2021 to release 887 detainees.
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) organized flights to transport 869 of the released detainees to six cities in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
  • An additional 104 detainees were released from Saudi Arabia to Yemen, further adding to the prisoner swap.
  • The prisoner swap is seen as a positive step towards a permanent ceasefire in Yemen.
Stockholm Agreement:
  • The warring parties in control of parts of Yemen signed the Stockholm Agreement in December 2018.
  • The agreement was brokered by the United Nations and committed the parties to freeing conflict-related detainees.
  • The agreement had three main components: the Hudayah agreement, the prisoner exchange agreement, and the Taïz agreement.
  • The Hudayah agreement included a ceasefire in the city of Hodeidah and other clauses like no military reinforcements in the city and strengthened UN presence.
  • The Taïz agreement includes the formation of a joint committee with participation from civil society and the UN.
  • Regenerate response

Background and Causes of the Yemen War

  • The Yemen War started in 2011 as a result of the Arab Spring protests.
  • President Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who struggled to tackle the country’s economic and security problems.
  • The Houthis, backed by Iran, took advantage of the situation and captured the Saada province in the north and then the capital, Sana’a, in 2014.
  • This development was concerning for neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which led a coalition of Arab countries to intervene in Yemen in 2015, to prevent the Houthis from consolidating their hold on the country.
  • Despite the coalition’s efforts, the Houthis remained in control of Sana’a and the north of Yemen, and the conflict has continued since then.
  • Only one nationwide truce has occurred in the past six years, in April 2022, when the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition announced a two-month ceasefire ahead of Ramzan

Impact of the war in Yemen

  • Yemen is considered the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the UN.
  • About 80% of the population is dependent on aid and protection.
  • Over three million people have been displaced from their homes since 2015.
  • Public service sectors, including healthcare, water, sanitation, and education, have either collapsed or are in a dire situation.
  • Yemen has lost $90 billion in economic output due to the war.
  • More than 600,000 people have lost their jobs in Yemen.
  • More than half of Yemen’s population is living in extreme poverty.

-Source: The Hindu


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