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German Government to Urge Stockpiling of Food and Water in Case of Attacks

Germany will urge residents to stockpile food and water in case of nation-wide attacks.

LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 26:  In this photo illustration, a shopping cart carries groceries inside a supermarket on July 26, 2005 in Luneburg, Germany. Sparked by the election manifesto of the opposition party CDU, Germany currently debates whether raising the Mehrwertsteuer (VAT) would in fact promote economic growth or if it would have the opposite effect by hurting families and low-income households.  (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
LUNEBURG, GERMANY - JULY 26: In this photo illustration, a shopping cart carries groceries inside a supermarket on July 26, 2005 in Luneburg, Germany. Sparked by the election manifesto of the opposition party CDU, Germany currently debates whether raising the Mehrwertsteuer (VAT) would in fact promote economic growth or if it would have the opposite effect by hurting families and low-income households. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Earlier this month, German Defense Minister Ursula Gertrud von der Leyen said her country was in the “crosshairs of terrorism,” and that its police and military need to prepare for potential large-scale terrorist attacks. Now the German government is saying civilians should do the same.

This week, for the first time since shortly after the Cold War, ministers will weigh a new “civil defense” proposal that will advise citizens to stock up on 10 days’ worth of food and five days of water in case of a national emergency.

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine, a German newspaper, the proposal is included in a 69-page Interior Ministry document that will be presented to ministers on Wednesday. The document admits that “an attack on German territory, requiring conventional defense of the nation, is unlikely.” But it also says that it cannot be considered impossible, and that civilians must be prepared to defend themselves in the event of such an attack.

According to the BBC, Interior Minister Thomas de Mazière already briefed a group of schoolchildren on the matter, telling them they would need extra supplies in case someone poisoned their water supplies or cut off their gas lines.

Briefing schoolchildren before briefing ministers was, to say the least, an odd way to proceed.  And opposition lawmakers claimed that was intended to ratchet up fear-mongering at time when there are already tensions in the country, which has controversially accepted more than a million refugees. Right-wingers claim that the mass influx of refugees could destabilize the country and make it more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

On Monday, left-wing parliament member Dietmar Bartsch urged the government not to encourage stockpiling of emergency materials. “You can completely unsettle people with yet another round of proposals, such as hoarding supplies,” he said.

Photo credit: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Siobhán O’Grady is a freelance journalist working across sub-Saharan Africa. She previously worked as a staff writer at Foreign Policy. @siobhan_ogrady

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