A freed Houthi prisoner is decorated with necklaces of jasmine A freed Houthi prisoner is decorated with necklaces of jasmine  (ANSA)

Push for peace underway in Yemen

As a glimmer of hope appears on the horizon for Yemen, Pope Francis calls on the faithful to remember the suffering people of the country.

By Nathan Morley and Joseph Tulloch

Speaking at his general audience on Wednesday morning, Pope Francis called for prayers for Yemen, “a land that has been wounded for many years by a terrible, forgotten war, which has caused so many deaths and still causes so many people to suffer, especially children.”

His words came as a glimmer of hope was appearing on the horizon for the war-torn nation.

Saudi Arabia has allowed over 100 detainees to return to the country, following simultaneous prisoner exchanges between Yemen's warring parties.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross and a Saudi-led coalition, the prisoner release was a unilateral move.

On Monday, UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg – speaking at a Security Council meeting - stated that despite recent positive developments, the opposing parties need to commit to their responsibilities to achieve lasting peace.

Grundberg said he had not seen such a serious opportunity for making progress towards ending the conflict in eight years.

However, a United Nations brokered ceasefire that started in April 2022 has dramatically reduced casualties. The truce terminated in October, but fighting since then has been limited.

Pope Francis has been following the crisis in Yemen with great concern. The country has been embroiled in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia stormed several northern cities and forced the Saudi-backed Yemeni government out of the capital Sanaa.

The UN says the ongoing conflict has left children and families in urgent need of food, water, and medical supplies. UNICEF reports 3.2 million children are internally displaced.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report

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19 April 2023, 14:05