WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Army troops will help secure a meeting taking place in July between Pope Francis and thousands of youths from around the world in southern Poland, a spokesman said Thursday.
Some security officials have suggested that the vast meadows wedged between a road and a river near the city of Krakow can't guarantee the security of the July 31 meeting. 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 The 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.
Additionally, Poland is introducing temporary border controls in July, when it will also host a NATO summit.
Francis will be in Poland from July 27 through July 31, visiting Krakow, Czestochowa, the Nazi Germany former death camp of Auschwitz and the meadows in Brzegi, where he will hold a Mass.