Lithuania launches major campaign to boost emergency preparedness

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By Euronews  with EVN
Lithuania has launched an information campaign to prepare its citizens in the event of emergency situations.
Lithuania has launched an information campaign to prepare its citizens in the event of emergency situations.   -   Copyright  LTLN via EBU

Lithuania has launched an information campaign to prepare its citizens in the event of an emergency. 

It follows a recent survey commissioned by the government that showed only 18% of residents possess an emergency bag, while only 15% have discussed their family's disaster plan with their relatives.

According to Lithuania's interior minister, civil safety has been neglected while threats to the country have increased.

“The Covid-19 pandemic, illegal migration, Russia's war against Ukraine, the unpredictability of our neighbour Belarus and the Astravets nuclear power plant near Vilnius -- these are the challenges we have faced one after the other,” explained Agne Bilotaite. 

As a result, concert halls and dance studios at the M. K. Ciurlionis School of Art in Vilnius have been chosen to serve as shelters should an emergency arise.  

“As a building of collective safety, we can receive about 2,000 people for the short term. As a building of serious protection or shelter, we can receive around 180 to 200 people,” explained Dainius Numgaudis, Director of the school.

While preparing shelters is one way of improving the country's preparedness, it is not enough to keep people safe. Just half of Lithuanians say they would know how to react in an emergency situation. The country's Interior Ministry says the data is worrying.

Sergei Grits/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.
Belarus's first nuclear plant, near Astravets, BelarusSergei Grits/Copyright 2020 The AP. All rights reserved.

“Half of Lithuania’s residents know how to behave in case of an emergency situation. But if we go deeper, only 9% of residents know exactly how to behave, while 41% think that they know,” revealed Lithuania's Interior Minister Egle Vileikiene.

The Interior Ministry has modernised the website, and warning systems, and has looked at how to better signpost emergency shelters. Lithuania is also keeping a close eye on possible threats posed by the Astravets nuclear plant in nearby Belarus -- a close ally of Russia.

Additional sources • LTLT