How crisis-ready is Czechia? A new report highlights shortcomings

A report says Czechia lacks sufficient protective gear and has old systems, but the Interior Ministry says the information is outdated. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 28.03.2023 07:30:00 (updated on 28.03.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia’s population protection system has some fundamental shortcomings, the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) said, but the Interior Ministry countered that the country’s population protection system is considered one of the most robust and best prepared within the EU.

Shortcomings listed by the NKÚ included insufficient masks and protective suits, among longer-term issues. “Even after 20 years, [the Interior Ministry] has not completed the replacement of the rotary sirens and has not launched the planned web portal for the public,” the NKÚ said. Switzerland, for example, has had an SMS warning system since 2018 and Sweden regularly sends information brochures to residents.

The number of permanent shelters in Czechia has decreased by 32 percent since 2010. Changes to the law were supposed to improve the situation but the Interior Ministry has not yet initiated them. The NKÚ examined how CZK 721 million allocated to the Interior Ministry and the Health Ministry was used between 2015 and 2021 to prepare for crisis situations.

An NKÚ survey of secondary school students by the NKÚ in 2022 found that 80 percent of respondents do not know the location of a permanent shelter, half do not know how to behave in the event of a chemical substance leak, 45 percent are not aware of how to proceed after a radioactive substance leak, and 47 percent do not recognize individual types of warnings.

Interior Ministry calls the report 'short-sighted'

The Interior Ministry said the NKÚ’s report creates a “completely false impression that the state of the population protection system is unprepared.”

The Interior Ministry in its response said maintains that Czechia’s security system for protecting the population represents “a robust system that has been tested many times in practice, which was able to respond to all extraordinary events and crisis situations that have taken place so far.”

Interior Ministry spokeswoman Klára Dlubalová said that the information is out of date. An SMS system is currently being prepared, and new strategic and planning documents for defense and security strategy are being processed. New legal changes are also being discussed.

She added that the NKÚ’s criteria were very selective, missing the broader picture.

“The population protection system represents a cross-section of the activities of all public administration bodies, private entities, and citizens,” she said. The Interior Ministry coordinates the system but is not the only entity that acquires and stores items for a potential crisis.

“With regard to the international security situation, we consider the release of the [NKÚ] press release in published form to be inappropriate and very short-sighted, one might even say dangerous in an international context,” Dlubalová said.

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