• Reuters

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Germany has told its citizens to stock up on water and food in the event of a terrorist attack or national catastrophe and may even consider re-introducing conscription in its first overhaul of civil defenses in two decades.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved the 70-page plan at a time when Germans are particularly on edge after two Islamist attacks in July and several much larger-scale attacks in France and Belgium this year.

The German word for stocking up on provisions in case of an emergency is “Hamsterkaeufe,” and some media have mocked the plan for encouraging Germans to hoard like the small, furry pets.

Although the report was commissioned in 2012, security is shaping up into a major campaign issue before two regional votes next month and next year’s federal election. Proposed measures include boosting spending on police and a ban on the burqa.

The strategy unveiled on Wednesday outlines precautionary steps for scenarios such as terrorism and chemical weapons and cyberattacks. The Interior Ministry says it is not linked to an immediate threat.

“The plan outlines the framework for adjustments needed in a changing security climate and the demands for civil defense and emergency provision,” said the report, last published in 1995.

It recommends people buy five days’ worth of water and 10 days’ worth of food in the event of a national crisis. It also outlines the need for a more extensive alarm system to alert people when there is an emergency, improved protection for buildings and medical care.

It also suggests the possibility of reintroducing conscription, which was suspended in 2011. The idea has caused controversy.

“Conscription must not be brought back, there is no reason to do that, it is absolute nonsense,” Social Democrat lawmaker Eva Hoegl told rbb radio.

Civilians should also be ready to help the military with tasks such as directing traffic, finding accommodation and providing fuel.

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