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German councils demand funds for bunkers, civil protection

March 9, 2024

The head of Germany's association of municipal councils is calling for bunkers to be put back into operation and for modern shelters to be built. The comments come as Russia's war in Ukraine enters its third year.

Bunker in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany
An association of municipal councils is calling for more shetler for civilians in the event of warImage: Andreas Gillner/picture alliance

German local councils on Saturday called for the government to refurbish out-of-use bunkers.

The comments were made by André Berghegger, the head of the Association of Towns and Municipalities, to the Funke media conglomerate.

They come as Russia's war in Ukraine enters its third year and a day after Defense Minister Boris Pistorius visited civil protection facilities in Finland.

What is the association demanding?

Berghegger said that the level of threat had changed and that this was shown by "Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine."

He demanded Germany build more bunkers, saying that only 600 out of the 2,000 public shelters built during the Cold War still exist.

"There is an urgent need to put decommissioned bunkers back into operation," he said, adding that the shelters currently in operation can accommodate around 500,000 people.

He said that modern shelters need to be built and that underground car parks and railway shafts in urban centers could also be used.

Berghegger said additional sirens needed to be installed, saying Germany could not "rely solely on mobile phone apps."

Association seeks more funds for civil protection

Berghegger urged Berlin to "raise large sums of money to ensure resilience at home."

He called for at least €1 billion each year over the next 10 years to be earmarked for civil protection, adding that this should come from the regular federal budget.

Berghegger criticized the current federal budget, saying that €40 million in funding for civil protection had been cut.

"Now it's not just about making the Bundeswehr capable of defense. It's about protecting the population from war-related dangers in general," Berghegger said.

Germany's government has raised a special fund of €100 billion ($109 billion) for the military.

sdi/rc (dpa, AFP, Reuters).

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