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Safety & Awareness

 

WYD 2011 - Young woman wrapped with U.S. flagIn light of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, we understand that many participants are concerned about safety and security during their upcoming travel to Poland. When traveling to Krakow for World Youth Day 2016, all pilgrims should be incredibly conscious of security and safety issues. The following information provides some resources for pilgrims and their families, group leaders, and parish and diocesan authorities regarding the safety of all World Youth Day pilgrims while in Krakow. 

Holding Statement on WYD 2016 Safety and Security
Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

The World Youth Day office at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is aware of the recent summer European travel advisory issued by the United States Department of State (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings/europe-travel-alert.html) and, in view of this, continues to encourage vigilance and responsibility on the part of all pilgrims and group leaders going to Europe for the World Youth Day (WYD) events in Krakow, Poland, this summer.

On May 31, 2016, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby noted, "(We are) not aware of any specific, credible terrorist threat around these events or in any particular place in Europe… We issue alerts all the time that aren't based on specific, credible attacks… We absolutely don't want to discourage travel or tourism to Europe. The Secretary (of State) has said himself, even in the wake of the Brussels attacks, that he would want and would hope that Americans continue to travel abroad to see the great sites of the world, to attend these kinds of events. We just want them to be aware and to be vigilant." He further noted that the summer alert was a renewal of a travel advisory that had been in place for the past several months.

With this in mind, the delegation from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has no plans, at this time, to cancel its participation in World Youth Day. The bishops of the United States remain committed to fully participating in this international pilgrimage experience along with the Holy Father. Individual groups on the local level may make their own travel decisions regarding WYD attendance.

To aid pastoral leaders and families in their preparation, the USCCB World Youth Day office (WYDUSA) regularly posts updated safety and security information on its website (www.wydusa.org and www.usccb.org/about/world-youth-day/safety.cfm).  The WYDUSA office also maintains an open line of communication with the U.S. State Department Consulate in Kraków and with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the United States, and continues to monitor and assess the situation.

The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Poland have released a special website with safety information for U.S. travelers to World Youth Day: https://pl.usembassy.gov/world-youth-day-2016/. U.S. pilgrims, leaders, and families may also contact the Krakow Consulate directly with any concerns at WorldYouthDay2016@state.gov.

Safety and Security Resources for WYD Krakow

 

WYDUSA Safety and Security Webinar

On April 14, the WYDUSA office hosted a Safety and Security Webinar. On this webinar, we had representatives from the USA Consulate in Krakow, the Youth Protection office in the USCCB, and WYD leaders sharing their experience of general leader awareness and emergency preparedness. If you have any questions about security at World Youth Day, we highly recommend watching this webinar and downloading the PDF used during the presentation.

 The WYDUSA office will be posting safety updates to this page and to our Twitter and Facebook.

Pope Francis points to a crucifix outside shrine as he greets crowd in Brazil. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

USCCB World Youth Day Bishop Liaison on WYD 2016 Safety Concerns

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, Bishop of Bridgeport, spoke about safety concerns for pilgrims traveling to WYD. At the November General Meeting, he said:

In the wake of the recent international terrorist attacks, I want to assure you, our pilgrimage leaders, and the families of our pilgrims that we have taken extra measures to assure the safety and security of all World Youth Day travelers. Our USCCB World Youth Day office is working with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, and the Embassy of Poland in the United States to ensure the protection of those making this international pilgrimage. We will continue to be diligent and proactive in all these matters and we will provide multiple opportunities for leader training in the coming months.

In light of the recent terror attacks and threats, the WYDUSA office has released a Safety Notice for all pilgrims traveling to WYD. This document contains the most up to date information about safety in Krakow.

Check out WYD Krakow for continuous updates on safety in Krakow. The US State Department continuously updates travelers on advisories and provides resources for safety while traveling outside of the country. The US Consulate in Krakow and the US Embassy in Poland also have safety resources for those planning to travel to Poland.

If you have any questions or concerns about safety, please feel free to contact the WYDUSA office by phone, 202-541-3044, or email, wyd@usccb.org. You can also follow us on Twitter or Facebook to receive the most recent updates about resources concerning pilgrim safety.

Tips for Personal Safety and Security

  • Always travel in a group. Traveling alone creates a personal safety risk. Group leaders should know exactly where their pilgrims are at all times.
  • Exercise extreme caution when walking and crossing streets. Please use designated crosswalks and be mindful of fast-moving, heavy traffic.
  • Do not leave your valuables at your lodging site or hotel.
  • Inquire about fire safety procedures at your lodging site.
  • Do not make jokes or threats about weapons, bombs, or dangerous acts.
  • Do not venture out, especially alone as well as in groups, at night.
  • Stay close to official WYD event locations; do not veer outside those boundaries.
  • Please report anything suspicious to the local authorities and WYD staff.
  • If you are lost or in the event of an emergency, seek out World Youth Day security and volunteers - or contact the local municipal authorities/police.

Poland Emergency Numbers

Via landline or a public phone:
997: Police Department
998: Fire Department
999: Ambulance
986: Municipal Wardens (Straż Miejska)

Via mobile phone:
112: All Services (You may also dial this on a landline, if you are unsure of the department you need)

Specialty Emergency Numbers

+ 48 601 100 300: Mountain Rescue Service (GOPR)
+ 48 601 100 100: Water Rescue Service (WOPR)

 

Proper Indentification

While in Krakow, it is important that you carry a picture ID such as an original passport or a scanned color copy.

Pilgrims should also be sure to keep their Registration Certificate with them for the duration of their trip. This certificate with the ecclesial stamp and signature is important, because it verifies your status as a WYD pilgrim. There is also a possibility that pilgrims could run into difficulties with the Polish authorities for a number of reasons, which is another reason to carry the certificate to verify your identity.


Things to Remember for WYD Krakow

  • Passport: required for entry to the country (N.B. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Poland)
  • WYD Registration Certificate
  • WYD badge (you will receive this in Krakow)

Also, your WYD Registration Certificate and WYD badge (which you will receive upon check-in at WYD) are your ticket to enter WYD events. Please, do not lose or forget to have them with you at all times.

Your credentials, badges, or certificates may not be transferred—and should not be shared or given away or lost. Missing credentials create a security risk Lost credentials are not easily replaced. In case of an emergency, please proceed (with your group leader) to a WYD Information Center located throughout the city. Also in addition to this, remember that all participants from the United States are reminded to act in a Christian manner and adhere to the codes of conduct of their local dioceses.

 

Creating a Safe Environment

At WYD Krakow, there will be thousands of group leaders, trained volunteers, and staff on hand to ensure safety and security. Also, the local Polish police will be present throughout the downtown area of Krakow.

WYD greeters and security personnel will be at the entrances to all events. Each pilgrim must have valid WYD credentials (i.e. pilgrim badges and registration certificate) for entry. Also, due to the high volume of pilgrims, please plan for additional wait times in your schedule for the lines to enter events.

Backpacks, Bags, and Purses
Traditionally, many pilgrims carry a backpack throughout WYD. As a result, pilgrims and group leaders are encouraged to travel light. If possible, try to carry only those items you will need for that day. Please do not leave your backpack unattended, for any reason.

Emergency Exit
If emergency evacuation is necessary, please follow the instructions of police, security personnel, WYD volunteers, and/or any of the public announcements.

In the unlikely event of widespread sustained crisis, each group leader should have a designated a crisis check-in location. Report to this location, if instructed to do so by security, law enforcement, or event personnel.

Other Helpful Resources

United States Consulate General of Poland in Krakow

United States Embassy in Poland (Warsaw)

U.S. State Department - Travel Details for Poland
with links to travel requirements and other valuable info

Centers of Disease Control (CDC) Travel Info for Poland
with details about medical information for Krakow pilgrims



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