Abuja – The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), scheduled to begin on Nov. 6 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, has been postponed due to a volcanic eruption in the neighbouring island of Lombok.
A statement issued by the organisers in Abuja said the postponement followed a volcanic ash cloud that forced the closure of the Denpasar Airport, for three days.
It said the closure of the airport created a backlog of cancelled flights to Denpasar which prevented the timely arrival of thousands of participants and dignitaries.
“As of Friday, Nov. 6, the Denpasar Airport had re-opened; however, the opening is considered temporary and is dependent on unpredictable natural factors such as wind direction and volcanic activity.
“The Government of Indonesia is making an evaluation every two hours to decide whether the airport should remain opened or closed’’, the statement said.
The statement also quoted Jose Rimon II, Chairman of the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN), as saying that the conference would have afforded the world to consolidate reproductive health services.
“Every two years, the ICFP provides an unparalleled opportunity to rally the worldwide family planning community and increase momentum toward achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health services.
“This momentum is created, in large part, by convening thousands of the world’s leading scientists, researchers, policymakers and advocates together in a single location.
“As the 2015 conference approached, we realised with heavy hearts that the volcanic eruption will affect the travel plans of many of our valued colleagues and collaborators.
According to statement, Rimon II said that several flights were delayed until two days into the conference.
”Many high-level speakers were concerned that they will not be able to make it because of the unpredictable schedule of airport openings and closings.
“This postponement is a disappointment for the many individuals and organisations that have worked tirelessly to plan this historic event, as well as the thousands of conference participants,’’ the statement quoted Rimon as saying.
According to the statement, Rimon, who is the chairman of the 2015 ICFP International Steering Committee, said the confab was postponed to minimize inconvenience for those who had not yet begun their journeys.
It said that the postponement was to protect the health and safety of the delegates and to maximise the value of the conference for the family planning community as a whole. (NAN)