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BRUSSELS: Maritime traffic through the Red Sea shipping route has fallen by 22 percent in a month due to attacks on international vessels by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, the EU’s trade commissioner said Tuesday.

“That decrease should be bigger now that shipping companies are rerouting their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope,” Valdis Dombrovskis told journalists.

The Red Sea is vital for international, and particularly European, trade, with Dombrovskis saying that up to 15 percent of global maritime traffic usually passes through the route.

“The broader economic impact, impact on consumer prices and the EU economy in general, will depend very much on the length of this crisis,” Dombrovskis said.

Yemen’s Houthis say they attacked U.S. military cargo ship in Gulf of Aden

The Iran-backed Houthis have carried out attacks on ships in what they say is solidarity with Gaza in the face of Israel’s military operation.

The United States and Britain have launched repeated strikes against the Houthi’s capabilities in Yemen, but so far the rebels have retained the ability to hit vessels.

The European Union is pushing to launch its own naval mission in the Red Sea to help protect international shipping.

EU countries have given initial backing to the plan and are aiming to finalise it by a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers on February 19.

So far Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium have said they could contribute ships to the mission.

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