A United Nations attempt to carry out polio vaccinations for 165,000 children in Sudan over a two-week period has not come to fruition, due to a political and military filibuster. Conflicts between the Sudanese government and rebels prevented the U.N. from getting safe access to the southern part of the country.

“It is an issue that bears on the well-being of children,” Liu Jieyi, the U.N. ambassador from China who holds this month’s Security Council presidency, said, according to U.N. News Centre. “Children are the future. So we do hope that the conditions will be there so that this polio vaccination campaign can go ahead immediately covering those children that need such a vaccination.”

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) had proposed a two-week vaccination campaign that would begin Nov. 5, but due to disagreements between the Sudanese government and rebels, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), efforts have stalled. Both sides had originally agreed to the vaccination campaign. “Sadly, and typically, since the Council passed its resolution calling for unfettered humanitarian access, once again we don’t have any access at all,” UN humanitarian chief John Ging said during a press conference. “[U]nfortunately we have been filibustered with process and discussions and disputes which have amounted to no access.”

After decades of civil war, South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011, and since then, the Sudanese government has been fighting an SPLM-N insurgency primarily in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. Though North Sudan had eradicated polio in 2009, the U.N. Security Council expressed alarm last month about the “imminent threat of the spread of polio in Sudan’s South Kordofan province and the continuing outbreak of the disease in the Horn of Africa.” They had called on both the Sudanese government as well as SPLM-N to “resolve differences over the technical plans necessary, including for safe passage,” a U.N. news release said, according to U.N. News Centre.

“They have their excuses, they point the finger at each other of course, but the bottom line is they don’t pay the price,” Ging said, according to Reuters. Polio is an infectious disease that can paralyze a person within hours of being transmitted. There is no cure, but vaccines are effective and can prevent fatalities, especially among children under the age of 5.

According to the World Health Organization, polio that originated in Pakistan has spread to Syria and is now at risk of being spread throughout the Middle East. The WHO announced yesterday that 13 cases of wild poliovirus type 1 have been confirmed in Syria, and it may be likely to spread to parts of Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Though polio has been eradicated in the majority of the world and cases have dropped by 99 percent since 1988 — the goal of eradicating polio is the largest internationally-coordinated public health effort in history, according to the WHO — it is still a risk in certain parts of the globe, including the Horn of Africa. The WHO also notes that there are three countries that never managed to fully eradicate polio: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria.

“Polio now survives only among the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities, where it stalks the most vulnerable children,” the WHO writes on its website. Meanwhile, John Ging expressed his disappointment in the U.N. and overall international community over the blocked efforts to vaccinate Sudanese children, saying, “We, the international community, have failed the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile."