Swiss authorities to phase out 1,000 civil defence facilities

The entrance to a civil protection shelter in Zurich. There are 2,000 in the country. Keystone

The government has announced its plan to close about half of the civil defence facilities, or bunkers, found across Switzerland. Security concerns are not as pressing as in past decades, it says.

This content was published on December 7, 2017 - 10:33 and agencies

Speaking Thursday morning on Swiss public radio, SRF, Kurt Münger from the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP) said that of the 2,000 existing bunkers, the goal is to get rid of 800 to 1,200.

Reasons include the lack of sufficient numbers of civilians needed to maintain and operate the bunkers, as well as the current international climate. “The security situation is certainly no longer the same as in the Cold War era. In that sense, the demand is no longer the same,” said Münger.

+ Take a tour through one of the biggest civilian bunkers in the world

Bunkers, built at the height of mid-20th-century international tensions, are present in almost every Swiss community. Nowadays, however, most are used for less dramatic purposes, such as housing underground hospitals, providing temporary accommodation for soldiers, and sheltering asylum seekers.

Others, in recent years, have been auctioned off to rich doomsayers or IT server operators seeking large, cool, secure premises.

Münger clarified that only the superfluous facilities – and not those still in use for civilian purposes – would be dismantled.

The federal government plans to aid local authorities in funding the decommissioning costs, and possible conversions, of these bunkers over the course of some 25 years. Estimated costs are likely to run to several million francs annually, Münger said.

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