UN Envoy to Yemen, Houthi Delegation Depart for Sweden

The prisoner exchange would be the third since the start of the war in 2015

The Saudi-led coalition said it approved evacuating wounded Houthi fighters for treatment on Monday, meeting a key condition for the group to attend UN-sponsored peace talks in Sweden this week aimed at ending Yemen's almost four-year-old war.

At the same time he called on rebel fighters to remain "vigilant against any attempt at a military escalation on the ground".

OCHA's Lowcock said the "onus" in the peace talks is on Yemen's government and the Houthi rebels to "take this seriously and act in a responsible way".

Meanwhile, a United Nations source told Reuters that the former Saudi-backed regime had also confirmed that it would follow the Houthis to the Sweden peace talks.

An agreement to exchange hundreds of detainees was welcomed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which will oversee the swap after the first round of planned peace talks in Sweden.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen said that the plane had departed Sanaa after the legitimate government verified the identities of the injured amid previous reports that members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards were among them.

The deal was struck by Griffiths, in the rebel-held capital Sanaa for meetings already buoyed by the evacuation of wounded insurgents - a rebel precondition for talks.

A Huthi rebel delegation flew out of the Yemeni capital Sanaa yesterday, heading for talks in Sweden with the government aimed at ending the country's devastating war.

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Although no date has been announced for the start of the negotiations, Yemeni government sources said they could begin as early as Thursday.

Hadi Haig, a government official, told the AFP news agency that the deal covered between 1,500 and 2,000 pro-government forces and between 1,000 and 1,500 Houthi rebels.

Al Arabiya news channel correspondent revealed on Monday that the Yemeni government delegation headed by Yemeni Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khaled al-Yamani will leave for Sweden on Wednesday (December 5) after confirming the arrival of the Houthis.

Rebel official Abdel Kader al-Murtadha confirmed the deal, adding he hoped it would be "implemented without problem".

Human rights groups put the death toll far higher. Overall, 24 million people in Yemen - roughly 75 per cent of the population - will need humanitarian assistance in 2019. The OCHA chief stressed however that the outlook for Yemen could improve if progress is made at UN-brokered peace talks, set to begin in Sweden this month.

Western powers, which provide arms and intelligence to the coalition, may have greater leverage to demand action on Yemen after outrage over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul increased scrutiny of the kingdom's activities in the region.

A coalition-backed government offensive on the rebel-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah has threatened to cut virtually the only gateway for UN-supervised aid.

Residents in Hodeidah were fearful of renewed fighting if the peace talks failed.

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