TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – 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 the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
The talks could start on Wednesday, two sources familiar with the matter said, after UN special envoy Martin Griffiths shuttled between the parties to salvage a previous round that collapsed in September after the Houthis failed to show up, Reuters reported.
The coalition agreed to a UN request to facilitate the evacuation of 50 wounded Houthis “for humanitarian considerations and as part of confidence-building measures” ahead of the talks, spokesman Turki al-Malki said.
A UN commercial plane would land in the Houthi-held capital Sana’a on Monday to transport them to Oman, along with three doctors, he said in a statement.
The Houthis have said they would head to Sweden once the wounded were evacuated and if their delegation’s plane was not inspected by the coalition. The group has agreed to travel on a plane provided by Kuwait, a source familiar with the talks said.
Some 8.4 million Yemenis are facing starvation, although the United Nations has warned that will likely rise to 14 million. Three-quarters of impoverished Yemen’s population, or 22 million people, require aid.
Yemen’s defenseless people have been under massive attacks by the coalition for more than three-and-a-half years but Riyadh has reached none of its objectives in Yemen so far.
Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and some of its Arab allies have been carrying out deadly airstrikes against the Houthi Ansarullah movement in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former president Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh.
The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights announced in a statement on March 25 that the war had left 600,000 civilians dead and injured until then. The war and the accompanying blockade have also caused famine across Yemen.