Civil defense by country

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See also: Civil defense

Many countries around the world have civil defense organizations dedicated to protecting civilians from military attacks and providing rescue services after widespread disasters. In most countries, civil defense is a government-managed and often volunteer-staffed organization.

Towards the end of the Cold War, a number of civil defense organizations have been disbanded or mothballed (as in the case of the Royal Observer Corps in the United Kingdom and the United States civil defense), while others have changed their focuses into providing rescue services after natural disasters (as for the State Emergency Service in Australia).




Large fallout shelters, known as "Diefenbunkers" were built at rural locations outside major cities across Canada at the height of the Cold War during the infancy of the ICBM threat. Among the "Core Missions" of the Canada First Defense Strategy (under the Canadian Department of National Defense) are to respond to terrorist attacks and other crises such as natural disasters.[1]


Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, are members of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, which organizes relief efforts after widespread disasters. Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are also members of the Regional Security System, which may also provide assistance during national emergencies.


The Panama Civil Defense Seismic Network has the capability of informing and warning citizens of hazardous conditions such as earthquakes, volcanoes, or tsunami.

United States[edit]

The Office of Civilian Defense was set up May 20, 1941, by Executive Order 8757, to co-ordinate state and federal measures for protection of civilians in case of war emergency. The Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) was organized on December 1, 1950, and distributed civil defense information until it was merged with FEMA in 1979. Between 1979 and 2001, the duties of Civil Defense were served by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA was absorbed into the Department of Homeland Security in 2003.


Australia's State Emergency Service is a fully volunteer organization intended to provide emergency help during and after officially declared disasters. The SES is one of many public safety organizations using the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System.



Civil Protection in Albania is coordinated by Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Emergjencave Civile (General Directorate of Civil Emergencies), a department within the Ministry of Interior of Albania. Established in 2001, this Directorate deals with preparedness and response to natural and man-made disasters.


China continues to construct large public emergency shelters.[2] Not less than three large (maximum capacity of around 8000) shelters are to be completed in the Shanghai area by 2012, with more planned. The ironic completion date of late 2012 has been dismissed as coincidence, with the true intent claimed to be a response to the 2008 Sichuan earthquakes, "as a precaution against possible natural disasters."[2]


Main article: Cyprus Civil Defence

The Cyprus Civil Defense Force was established in 1964 in response to the Turkish bombings of Tilliria in order to protect the civilian population and to help it recover from the immediate effects of hostilities or disasters.


The Danish Emergency Management Agency is a governmental agency under the Ministry of Defence chiefly tasked with preparing for and responding to natural disasters and national emergencies in Denmark. The DEMA is also capable of deploying abroad on request from other states. It evolved from the wartime Civilforsvarsstyrelsen (Civil Defense Agency), and the general public still often refer to it as the Civil Defense.


Civil defense in Finland is a civilian effort, coordinated by the Ministry of Interior through the Civil Defense Act of 1958, to provide shelters in high-risk areas, evacuate civilian populations from threatened areas, and limit damage from natural disasters.


Main article: Sécurité Civile

The Direction de la Défense de la Sécurité Civile (Department of Civil Defense and Emergency Preparedness) is the civil defence agency of the French Government, which includes the Sous-Direction des Sapeur-pompiers and the Sous-Direction des opérations de Secours et de la coopération civilo-militaire (Rescue operation and civil-military cooperation branch).


Main article: THW

The German Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW Technisches Hilfswerk) is an organization of voluntary experts as an authority in the department of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, founded in 1950.


Main article: Civil Defence Ireland

Civil Defence Ireland, established in 1950 in response to the threat of nuclear disaster following "The Emergency", is operated at local authority level in conjunction with the Department of Defence.

Isle of Man[edit]

Established in 1949, the IOMCDC is an emergency service of the Isle of Man Government, with a wide brief for emergency response, civilian evacuation, flood control, disaster management, emergency communications, and mass decontamination.


The Israeli Home Front Command was created in February 1992 to cope with the variety of military and terrorist threats to the centers of civilian population in Israel.


Main article: Protezione Civile

The Protezione Civile (Civil Protection) deals with the prediction, prevention and management of exceptional events.


The Directorate General for the Lebanese Civil Defense works alongside the Lebanese Red Cross and is administered by the Ministry of Interior and Municipalities (Lebanon). It provides search and rescue, fire-fighting and pre-hospital services.


The Corps des Sapeurs-Pompiers is a military force, consisting of 135 military personnel and 25 civilian employees, which handles fire-fighting and civil defense duties.


The Norwegian Civil Defence support the police, fire departments and health care during larger incidents which those departments do not have the manpower to handle.


The Office of Civil Defense began as the National Civil Defense Administration, established on August 18, 1954 through the Civil Defense Act of 1954.[3] The Department of National Defense exercises executive supervision over the Office of Civil Defense.

On September 27, 2010 the 'Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010' was passed to strengthen the country's disaster risk reduction and management system in response to Typhoon Ondoy.[3]


In Romania, the General Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (RO: Inspectoratul General pentru Situaţii de Urgenţă) is the governmental body responsible for nationwide civil defence. [4] Each county has a bureau in charge of emergency management in the area. IGSU is accountable for the construction and maintenance of public ABC shelters.

The concept of centralized civil defence arose in 1933, through the Royal Decree 433. It continues to be part of various ministries, such as Internal Affairs and Defence.


During the Soviet era, specialized civil defence subunits were maintained in order to provide assistance to the population afterbombing raids and nuclear, biological or chemical attacks. And today, by law, the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Affairs for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters civil defence troops must retain such a wartime role. Thus they are charged with the organisation and coordination of Russian military forces for the purpose of civil defence not only during natural and manmade disasters, but also during wartime.

San Marino[edit]

The Civil Police are responsible for civil defence, as well as tax collection, domestic security, and traffic control.[5]


The Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF) was established by the Civil Defense Act of 1986 as an independent organization under the Ministry of Home Affairs. The SCDF and the Singapore Fire Service were formally merged in 1989.[6]

South Korea[edit]

On December 15, 2010, Seoul held its largest civil defense drill in since 1975, in response to the Bombardment of Yeonpyeong.[7][8]

Sri Lanka[edit]

The Sri Lanka Department of Civil Security is a paramilitary force which is tasked as an auxiliary to the Sri Lanka Police. It evolved from the "Home Guards" created in response to attacks by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.


Swedish civil defense "consists of a diverse range of activities conducted by society to strengthen the ability to cope with a state of heightened alert and war."[9] Sweden's objectives of civil defence are to: protect the civilian population; contribute to peace and security; and strengthen societies ability to prevent and manage severe peacetime emergencies.[9]


The Swiss Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), under the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, is responsible for the coordination of civil defense services. It operates the National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) and the Spiez Laboratory, which is responsible for weapons of mass destruction research and protection.[10] Switzerland built an extensive network of fallout shelters during the cold war, including the Sonnenberg Tunnel. The reference Nuclear War Survival Skills declared that, as of 1986, "Switzerland has the best civil defense system, one that already includes blast shelters for over 85 percent of all its citizens."[11]

United Kingdom[edit]

Main article: Civil Defence Corps

The Civil Defence Corps was a civilian volunteer organization established in Great Britain in 1949, existing until 1968, to aid in the aftermath of a nuclear attack.


  1. ^ "Six Core Missions". Canada First Defence Strategy. National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Xinzhu, Li (18 March 2010). "Shelters part of long-term civil defense plan". China Daily. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "About Us: Philippines Office of Civil Defense". Republic of the Philippines Office of Civil Defense. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  4. ^ IGSU: organization
  5. ^ "San Marino Military Organizations". Retrieved 2012-06-18. 
  6. ^ SCDF Website - GENERAL: Milestones
  7. ^ McDonald, Mark (15 December 2010). "Amid Tension, South Korea Holds Nationwide Air-Raid Drill". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Xaykaothao, Doulay. "Seoul Holds Largest Civil Defense Drill In 35 Years". National Public Radio. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "Civil defence". Swedish Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  10. ^ "Organisation". Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport. Retrieved May 2008. 
  11. ^ Kearny, Cresson H (1986). Nuclear War Survival Skills. Oak Ridge, TN: Oak Ridge National Laboratory. pp. 6–10. ISBN 0-942487-01-X.