SINGAPORE: Singapore has joined a coalition of nations in condemning the escalating series of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on vessels transiting the Red Sea.

The attacks, which have persisted since November of the previous year, have prompted major shipping companies to opt for the longer and costlier route around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, bypassing the Suez Canal, which serves as a crucial entry point for ships and is responsible for facilitating the movement of goods between Asia and Europe.

The Governments of Singapore, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, and New Zealand have issued a joint statement expressing grave concern over the Houthi attacks and rebuking the illegal actions that threaten global trade and security.

Citing a significant escalation over the past week targeting commercial vessels using missiles, small boats, and attempted hijackings, the coalition reiterated the illegality and unacceptability of the Houthi attacks and branded them as profoundly destabilizing and a direct threat to the freedom of navigation in one of the world’s most critical waterways.

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The statement stressed that there is no lawful justification for intentionally targeting civilian shipping and naval vessels.

The impact of these attacks is not only felt on the seas but resonates globally, as nearly 15 per cent of global seaborne trade, including 8 per cent of global grain trade, 12 per cent of seaborne-traded oil, and 8 per cent of the world’s liquefied natural gas trade, passes through the Red Sea.

International shipping companies have resorted to rerouting their vessels, causing significant cost increases and weeks of delays in the delivery of goods. This rerouting jeopardizes the movement of critical food, fuel, and humanitarian assistance worldwide.

The coalition called for an immediate end to these illegal attacks and demanded the release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews. The Houthis were explicitly warned that they would bear responsibility for the consequences if the attacks persist, threatening lives, the global economy, and the free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.

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Asserting their commitment to the international rules-based order, the coalition vowed to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.

The statement said: “The Houthis will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways. We remain committed to the international rules-based order and are determined to hold malign actors accountable for unlawful seizures and attacks.”