Red Sea attacks
The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a resolution later Wednesday demanding the Houthis stop targeting maritime traffic in the Red Sea. AFP

The United Nations Security Council demanded on Wednesday an "immediate" end to attacks by Yemen's Houthi rebels on shipping in the Red Sea.

The resolution passed "demands that the Houthis immediately cease all such attacks, which impede global commerce and undermine navigational rights and freedoms as well as regional peace and security."

It was adopted after Russia, as well as China, Mozambique and Algeria abstained.

The intensifying attacks have caused shipping companies to bypass the route and instead divert around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope, significantly adding to journey times and cost.

The UN earlier said it continued "to be very concerned about the situation in the Red Sea, not only because of the situation itself, and the risks that it causes to global trade."

The resolution "condemns in the strongest terms the at least two dozen Houthi attacks on merchant and commercial vessels since November 19, 2023, when the Houthis attacked and seized the Galaxy Leader and its crew," according to the text seen by AFP.

Since the October 7 attacks by Hamas on Israel, and Israel's war in Gaza in response, the Houthis -- who control swathes of Yemen -- have stepped up their attacks on international maritime traffic in the Red Sea.

They claim to be acting in solidarity with the Palestinians in Gaza.

Israel's main ally, the United States, formed an international coalition in December to protect maritime traffic from Houthi attacks, in the strategically important zone through which at least 12 percent of world trade passes.

The resolution, noting the "large-scale" violations of the arms embargo against the Houthis, also reiterates the need for all member states to "to adhere to their obligations."

According to a November report by experts mandated by the Security Council to monitor the arms embargo, the Houthis are considerably strengthening their military capabilities on land and at sea.

The resolution, tabled by the United States and Japan, calls for "the root causes" of the situation to be addressed, "including the conflicts contributing to regional tensions."

Russia sought to introduce three amendments to the draft resolution, one of which have added "the conflict in the Gaza Strip" to the list of factors contributing to tensions. It did not pass after the amendments were defeated at a vote.