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110,000 signed up for World Youth Day

110,000 young people, including one from Afghanistan, have made reservations for this year's World Youth Day in Toronto.

At a news conference in the Canadian Embassy at the Vatican, Organising Committee Director Fr Thomas Rosica said that 500,000 young people are expected for the 18-28 July. Reservations have come from 122 countries, he said.

The first to register were 40 young men from Algeria. Also registered are groups from Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso and Benin.

The priest told Zenit that the presence of Latin American youth will be especially important. For the first time, 200 Cuban youths will be able to attend. In past World Youth Days, the Cuban government allowed only 40 young people to attend. Especially numerous this year are reservations from Colombia and Costa Rica.

Fr Rosica also revealed that security for the event is guaranteed by a "task force" made up of forces of the Canadian police at all levels, which this week has had meetings with the Italian police, the Swiss Guard and the Italian government, who organized World Youth Day 2000 in Rome.

"It is evident, in any event that, given the present international situation, we will adopt the necessary means to guarantee absolute security," Ambassador Licari said.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls also spoke during the meeting, explaining that "no thought has yet been given to the Pope's stopover in New York" to visit the ruins of the Twin Towers.

Following his stay in Toronto, the Holy Father might travel to Mexico to beatify Juan Diego, the Indian who witnessed the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

World Youth Day 2002