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Faeser presents guidelines: The population should prepare for disasters

Faeser presents guidelines
Population should prepare for disasters

Better preparation, earlier warnings, more efficient action – this should help people in Germany to cope with these extreme situations in the future in the event of crises and disasters. Interior Minister Faeser also wants to sharpen the vigilance of citizens for such situations.

To ensure that Germany is in a better position in the future in the event of crises and disasters, the Federal Government is relying on more precautions – the population should also be involved. The President of the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK), Ralph Tiesler, said in Berlin: “All of us in Germany are preparing for a hard winter with a lack of gas and a new wave of corona. I would be happy if we all basically think about what we can do at home – from emergency supplies and first aid kits to alternative energy sources.”

Better preparation, earlier warning, more efficient action and good post-crisis care – a plan by Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser for the further development of civil protection is based on these four guidelines. The SPD politician presented the plan together with Tiesler and the President of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), Gerd Friedsam. For example, Faeser wants to suggest to the states that are responsible for disaster control that they organize a nationwide civil protection day every year from 2023 “to make the population more aware of the issues of personal resilience and self-protection”. Her ministry wants to give citizens “security and the ability to act without spreading fear”.

Faeser also announced that so-called cell broadcasting should be available from next spring – this would allow the authorities to send disaster warnings directly to the cell phones of citizens. The system should be tested on a “warning day” on December 8th. The federal government will also continue to promote the construction of sirens.

Tiesler spoke out in favor of obliging people who bear responsibility in the crisis teams of the municipalities to take part in the training and further education courses of the BBK. So far, participation in the courses organized by the federal government has been voluntary. However, the conference of interior ministers has postponed an exercise originally planned for November by the federal and state governments with the scenario “cyber attack on government action” – with reference to the current burden on those responsible to deal with current crises.

Germans hardly prepared for disasters

Under the impact of the corona pandemic, the devastating flood disaster of July 2021 and the Russian attack on Ukraine, the attitude of the population to questions of civil protection has changed, as opinion polls show. However, according to a survey from last May, more than two-thirds of Germans have not yet stocked up on supplies for possible emergencies.

The police union (GdP) warns that the police’s resilience to crises is also “patchy”. Practiced processes and autonomous, secure infrastructures are essential, says Deputy GdP Federal Chairman Dietmar Schilff. Faeser’s plans are embedded in a so-called resilience strategy that the cabinet has decided on. The aim is to “protect people and their livelihoods and to strengthen the community’s resilience and adaptability to disasters”. Non-governmental actors should also be involved, such as the aid organizations, which are primarily based on volunteer commitments.

Numerous spontaneous helpers who do not belong to any organization also took part in dealing with the consequences of the flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia a year ago. At the time, there was massive criticism of the coordination of aid. The President of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), Gerd Friedsam, said that lessons learned from the flood disaster: “What we need here are predefined deployment structures.” The federal government takes care of precautions for civil protection in the event of war. He can support the federal states and municipalities in the event of a disaster on request.

“Forge a civil protection pact”

Despite recognized shortcomings in dealing with several crises in recent years, there has so far been little willingness on the part of the federal states to question this distribution of responsibilities. The interior ministers of the federal and state governments have only agreed on the creation of a joint competence center at the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BBK). Here, nationwide situation reports are to be created and support services are to be organized in an emergency.

The center could face its first test this winter if there are actually bottlenecks in the energy supply. It is good that Faeser is pursuing initiatives from the past election period, such as the joint competence center, said the deputy chairwoman of the Union faction, Andrea Lindholz (CSU). But it is not sufficient. Lindholz demanded that Faeser should “forge a pact for civil protection with the federal states, with which the federal and state governments commit to long-term investments”. Instead, the Lükex exercise to maintain the ability to govern will be canceled, which could take revenge in view of the current security situation.

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