“Poland is safe.” Polish Interior minister Mariusz Blaszczak reassured the Country, along with some two million youths expected in Krakow for the upcoming World Youth Day (July 26-31) with Pope Francis. During an anti-terrorism meeting convened following the terror attack in Nice the Minister ensured that
“security forces are under high alert. Border police have the capabilities to identify those suspected of terrorism in case they tried to enter Poland.”
In particular, Minister Blaszczak gave reassurances on the security of the Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi, the site of Saturday’s prayer vigil and of the WYD closing Mass. The majority of young people – some 1.5-2 million according to estimates – are expected to attend these two events. In the same meeting Poland’s Minister of Defence Antoni Macierewicz was equally reassuring, supported by the decision to involve more troops to secure the WYD. “All of Poland is safe from attacks”, said Macierewicz, renewing his sympathy to the victims of the massacre in Nice and to their families.
Nothing is left to chance. Ensuring the safety of Pope Francis will be “a challenge” for Government Protection Bureau “BOR”, tasked with protecting the illustrious pilgrim. Last May a BOR unit was in the Vatican to participate in security training together with the Vatican Gendarmerie and the Italian Police. For the occasion, Polish Bureau security officers closely followed the Pontiff ‘s habits among the faithful on the ground. “His spontaneous behaviour – according to terrorism expert from Collegium Civitas (Warsaw University) Krzysztof Liedel – represents an additional difficulty in the security system.” No less important is the WYD network security. Government authorities and the communications provider “Orange Polska” have fielded a special task force to monitor the situation, and oppose and fight any cyber-threats during the global event, as personally confirmed by the head of the Security Operations Center (SOC) of Orange Polska, Krzysztof Bialek.
Close cooperation. There is full cooperation between the Church and the Local Organizing Committee (COL) of the WYD and national institutions, also in the area of security. Monsignor Damian Muskus, general coordinator of the WYD in Poland reiterated:
“We have faith in government security services and we cooperate with them. For the Church, safety issues are a priority.”
Cooperation of civil and military services with Poland’s COL was confirmed also by Beata Kempa, head of the WYD Government-Catholic Church commission. The new measures, in the framework of Poland’s anti-terrorism law, include airlifts to transport anyone injured to other hospitals in case no place were available in Krakow. Moreover, 10 thousand policemen from the Krakow area and other headquarters, in addition to thousands of soldiers, will contribute to the safety of pilgrims. Among them figure also a bomb squad that will inspect over 240 hectares of the Campus Misericordiae which will be equipped with three lighting poles and a large number of electric generators. Marek Pietrzak, from the General Command of the Polish Armed Forces, made known that two medical helicopters will be available along with two C-295 M aircrafts equipped with intensive-care units. The army will also provide tents and blankets, along with 10 tanker trucks with a capacity of 10 thousand litres, which will guarantee drinking-water supplies to the pilgrims. 360 soldiers will help civil services in managing traffic during the WYD, 200 those involved in food distribution, 100 will build makeshift infrastructure for the event and will support 150 police officers in other tasks. Finally, some 750 Polish and foreign soldiers will take part in the WYD as pilgrims. Over 100 dogs will help the Polish police in WYD security checks. They will serve to ensure there are no potential explosives in the sites visited by Pope Francis and by the young pilgrims.
No cancellation. Comforting news in terms of registration.
After the attacks in Brussels and Nice “there have been no cancellations or annulments. All groups have confirmed participation in the WYD.
Only a small number of private citizens have cancelled their registrations, without specifying the reasons. Many registered groups are planning to arrive to Poland and Krakow”, said Dorota Abdelmoula, WYD spokesperson, who added: “The obtainment of a visa required a letter of presentation from one’s bishop or from the secretary of the Bishops’ Conference.
Young participants don’t arrive here by chance but with a strong motivation of faith and communion.”