Release of former detainees in Yemen: the longest journey home

photos from the release operation that we facilitated in collaboration with the Yemeni and Saudi Red Crescent and the

  • By dawn, our teams were on the ground to kick start the two-day release operation to bring back home thousands of former detainees.
    Credit: Osama Alansi
  • One of the former detainees prays while waiting at one of the airports from which the releases were operated.
    Credit: Osama Alansi
  • Yemen Red Crescent volunteers were ready and well equipped to accommodate the health conditions based on the previously performed medical checkups prior to their release.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi
  • Former detainees were ready to go home. After years of waiting, one step was still to be taken to complete their reunification with their families.
    Credit: Mubarak Saeed
  • With 11 flights from 5 cities in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, we successfully facilitated the releases and transfer of 1056 detainees. It was the largest release operation the ICRC has facilitated in several decades.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi
  • The ICRC’s role in the release operation was to act as a neutral intermediary in facilitating the release and the transfer of the former detainees.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi
  • Given the current circumstances, the release operation was carried out adopting various mitigating measures related to COVID 19. These measures included wearing of Personal Protective Equipment by all staff and former detainees, physical distancing respected including on means of transport.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi
  • “More than 1,000 families can rejoice after being reunited with their loved ones. While we are very happy for these families, we are also keeping in mind thousands more waiting to be reunified. We hope this step will add energy to efforts to release more detainees in the future,” said Katharina Ritz, the head of ICRC’s Yemen delegation.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi
  • The impact of this release operation on the humanitarian situation in Yemen is significant and we hope it leads towards more similar operations and even a political solution that brings long/lasting positive change to millions of Yemenis.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi
  • The hugs that lit the houses of Yemen are at the heart of this release. It was our driving force throughout the entire operation. The joy and relief this operation brought to families are indescribable. Our mission is fulfilled when families are reunited.
    Credit: Abdellah Alhebshi