The exchange of detainees from both Houthi rebels and government forces was agreed in principle as a confidence-building measure ahead of peace talks in Sweden last month.

Delegates from Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government meet to discuss prisoner swap deal in Amman, Jordan on January 17, 2019.
Delegates from Houthi rebels and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government meet to discuss prisoner swap deal in Amman, Jordan on January 17, 2019. (Reuters)

The Yemeni government and Houthi representatives met in Jordan on Thursday for a second day to thrash out the details of a major prisoner exchange, a UN source said.

But the details were left for afterwards as UN mediators focused on brokering breakthrough truce deals for the aid lifeline port of Hudaida and the battleground third city of Taiz.

The two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap that delegates said would be conducted via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.

The talks in the Jordanian capital Amman come as international donors meet in Berlin to set up a fund to support the fledgling peace process in Yemen.

Representatives of the United Nations, which brokered the swap agreement, and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which will supervise its implementation, are taking part in the Amman talks.

TRT World spoke with journalist Abeer Ayyoub for more details.

New UN monitors for Hudaida 

During a first day of talks on Wednesday, the warring parties met separately with the mediators and submitted lists of prisoners they want to see released.

On Thursday, they were expected to meet face-to-face to hammer out the details of its implementation.

The new meetings come after the UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously approved the deployment of up to 75 monitors to oversee the truce in Hudaida, which has largely held despite delays in the agreed withdrawal of combatants.

Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, who heads a United Nations advance team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen's Hudaida, walks upon his arrival in Aden, Yemen, December 22, 2018.
Retired Dutch General Patrick Cammaert, who heads a United Nations advance team tasked with monitoring a ceasefire between the Houthi group and Saudi-backed government forces in Yemen's Hudaida, walks upon his arrival in Aden, Yemen, December 22, 2018. (Reuters)

International support

In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pledged $5.13 million as the opening contribution to the new peace process support fund.

The truce in the largely rebel-held Red Sea port city was the centre-piece of a series of breakthrough agreements brokered by the United Nations in Sweden last month in what is widely seen as the best chance yet of ending the devastating four-year civil war.

But in a sign that much work still needs to be done before formal peace negotiations can begin, UN envoy Martin Griffiths said last week that he had postponed until February a planned second round of talks between the two sides.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle radio on Wednesday, Griffiths said he was guardedly optimistic.

He said he had been pleasantly surprised that the truce had held in Hudaida so far despite the "currently very weak" UN monitoring.

He said he was "keeping his fingers crossed" that would continue while the new observer mission is put in place.

Humanitarian crisis 

The Yemen conflict has killed some 10,000 people since a Saudi-led military coalition intervened in support of the beleaguered government in March 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

Human rights groups say the real death toll could be five times as high.

The war has pushed 14 million Yemenis to the brink of famine in what the United Nations describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Yemen monitors safe after 'shooting incident'

Meanwhile, a United Nations mission tasked with overseeing a truce came under fire but was unharmed in the flashpoint city of Hudaida, the UN said. 

The head of the mission, Patrick Cammaert, and his team were "safe in Hudaida following reported shooting incident", tweeted the spokesperson of the UN secretary general. 

Speaking to AFP news agency on condition of anonymity, a UN official confirmed that "shots were fired" at Cammaert's convoy and that the retired Dutch general was "safe".

Source: AFP