Polish Army brought in to help secure World Youth Day

The meeting near Krakow on July 31 has been a security headache for authorities

Polish Army troops will help secure a meeting at World Youth Day between Pope Francis and two million or so youths from around the world in southern Poland, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The meeting, on July 31, the last day of the Pope’s visit, will take place in the vast meadows wedged between a road and a river near Krakow. Some security officials had said it will be hard to guarantee security. They said evacuation could be difficult in an emergency and noted no medical facilities in the vicinity. Polish state and Church authorities have since taken steps to ensure safety there.

Lt Col Marek Pietrzak of the Army’s General Command told Associated Press that four temporary bridges were being built to ease movement in and out of the 240-hectare (600-acre) site, where Church authorities are expecting up to 2.5 million people.

The army will also provide tents for some participants, a field hospital and medical care, supported by CASA planes, two helicopters with medical equipment and ambulances.

Military experts will check the area for any dangerous objects, while surveillance from the air will also be implemented.

At the last World Youth Day, in Brazil in 2013, military police joined the police in organising security, although they made sure only to be seen when necessary.

Poland is introducing temporary border controls in July, when it will also host a Nato summit.

World Youth Day takes place from July 25-31. The Pope will be in Poland from July 27-31, visiting Krakow, the Marian shrine of Czestochowa, Auschwitz and the meadows in Brzegi, where he will celebrate Mass.


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