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Reference : V-F-CR-F-03664-N
Date : 16/04/2023
Country/Region : YEMEN; SAUDI ARABIA
Title : Yemen / Saudi Arabia : scenes of overwhelming joy as nearly 900 detainees return home in three-day release operation
Duration : 00:04:21
Director : ALMAQTARI, Wagdi
Cameraman : unknown
Editor : unknown
Person appearing :
SATOR, Fatima (spokesperson, ICRC)
Confidentiality level : public
Publication restrictions : publication without restrictions
Copyright : ICRC
Production company : ICRC
ICRC producer :
Description : The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) successfully facilitated the simultaneous release of nearly 900 detainees who were held in relation to the conflict in Yemen, marking a moment of joy and hope in a region devasted by violence.

Throughout the three-day release operation, ICRC teams worked to ensure the safe return of the former detainees to their families and loved ones. Operations facilitated by the ICRC were run from 14 April to 16 April 2023. The ICRC provided logistical support for the transfer and release of the detainees and were deployed in several airports in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Our teams reported remarkable moments of happiness and emotion as they witnessed these reunions. At the airport in Aden, the ICRC’s Fatima Sator described the scene: ‘’The joy and excitement in the room was beyond description. No words can fairly describe the scenes of overwhelming joy of family members seeing or talking to their loved ones for the first time in years.”

One former detainee, Yasser, could barely contain his excitement as he yelled joyfully while talking to his mother over the phone for the first time in over a year: “Mother! I’m at the airport! Boarding on the plane in half an hour. I’m coming to Sanaa!”

As the first flight from Abha, Saudi Arabia to Sanaa, Yemen, took off, former detainees shared a moment of collective happiness, talking about their plans and the family members they were eager to see most. “I can’t wait to kiss the soil of my homeland,” said Husain, who spent the last five years in detention. “Yemen is like my caring mother. I miss everyone in there, it’s my home.”

Sitting next to him, Mohammad spoke about focusing on his health and plans for the future. "I want to heal my body then eventually get married,” he said. “I've been detained for six years. I can’t wait to arrive to Yemen, my home, and see my family as soon as possible. I miss my mother the most, I can’t wait to see my father and siblings again.”
Medical staff and volunteers from the Yemen Red Crescent Society (YRCS) and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority (SRCA) also played a vital role in assisting the detainees during these operations. With teams deployed at six airports, they helped detainees with disabilities on and off the planes and provided first aid and ambulance services.

For the ICRC’s Regional Director for the Near and Middle East, Fabrizio Carboni, this release represents a spark of hope for millions. “This release doesn’t impact the detainees and their families only,” he said. “It is also a hope for a better future for Yemen, one without a return to violence. Any respite for an exhausted population, including through release operations like these, is something to be supported. But ultimately, only a political solution will end the suffering in Yemen.”

The release operation was the result of talks co-chaired by the ICRC with the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen (OSESGY), which concluded on March 20, 2023 in Bern, Switzerland.

Original language : International soundtrack
English title : Yemen / Saudi Arabia : scenes of overwhelming joy as nearly 900 detainees return home in three-day release operation
Colour/B&W : colour
Resolution : 1920 x 1080
Aspect ratio : 16/9
Original material/format : H264
Best material/format available : ProRes 422