Yemenis say vaccines would break Ramadan fast

In the disputed Yemeni city of Taiz, medical staff are working to inoculate the few people who have shown interest in the COVID-19 vaccine.

Yemen has received 360,000 doses from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.

Yet, take up has been limited due to religious belief, vaccine distrust, or because of the dangers of war.

Rajeh al-Maliki is the head of Yemen's health ministry in Taiz and said many locals believe the vaccine would break their fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

"The total vaccine doses that arrived to Taiz province is 70,000 doses from a total 360,000 that arrived to Yemen. We started on April 21, but the turnout has been very low, and its very low because of two reasons. Firstly, the religious conviction that many people have that taking a shot in Ramadan breaks your fast. And this is a wrong religious fact that people believe and has led to people away, including many healthcare workers."

There has been a dramatic spike in infections in Yemen this year, straining a health system already battered by war, economic collapse and a shortfall in aid funding.

The Iranian-aligned Houthi movement controls most of northern Yemen and parts of Taiz and has been battling the Saudi-backed government since 2014.

Tens of thousands have been killed and millions rely on aid to survive.

Checkpoints and snipers in the militarized city makes it hard for many to reach the main government-controlled hospital.