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‘If War Comes’: Swedes Concerned by Mass Mailing of Crisis-Handling Brochures

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June 28, 2018

Following the revival of a Cold War-era brochure on handling crises and wars, the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency has been showered with phone calls from concerned citizens peaking at over 300 a day.

The brochure “If Crisis or War Comes” on public preparedness and security with guidelines to teach people how to handle crisis situations, terror attacks or even wars, issued after a 57-year-long break with a record number of 4.8 million copies, has triggered concern among ordinary Swedes, national broadcaster SVT reported.

Last time such a pamphlet was issued in 1961 at the height of the Cold War, which spurred many questions on the timing of its re-edition. As the Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) began delivering the pamphlets in May, its contact center started receiving phone calls from concerned Swedes, peaking at over 300 a day during the emergency preparedness week. The MSB was also contacted via chat and e-mail, receiving close to 100 of each a day, according to MSB contact officer Johan Landenmark.

Many of those who called and wrote to the MSB wanted to know the exact reason why the brochure was being mailed to virtually every household in Sweden, a nation of 10 million.

“They asked why we had sent the brochure and why we chose to send it right now. They simply wanted to know if it was a special event that made us do it,” Landenmark said.

However, many also asked where the nearby shelters were.

“In addition to that, many people with disabilities contacted us about the accessibility of the information mentioned in the brochure and how society catered to the needs of disabled people in a war-time situation,” Landenmark said.

According to MSB security officer Alexandra Johansson, it was natural for the brochure to raise concern, which is why a special contact center was created to address Swedes’ worries in nine languages, including Kurdish and Cantonese.

Landmark also mentioned that edited joke versions of the pamphlet were spread on social media, which he interpreted as a sign of engagement from the Swedish people. An example of a mock pamphlet is called “Important message to the Swedish people: If the socialists win the 2018 election.”

​The real “If Crisis or War Comes” 19-page booklet, however, includes instructions on how to handle serious emergencies, calamities, cyberattacks and war, as well as guidelines on home preparedness, such as meeting basic needs like food, water, heating, communications and keeping packed belongings in the nearest shelter (ID, clothing and gas mask) and, finally, how to identify “fake news” and propaganda.

​It is available for download on the MSB‘s page.

This article was posted: Thursday, June 28, 2018 at 6:02 am

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