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Intensive security measures put in place ahead of 77th Session of UN General Assembly

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ANKARA, TURKIYE - An infographic titled "77th UN General Assembly meetings start under intensive security measures" is created in Ankara, Turkiye on September 18, 2022. (Omar Zaghloul - Anadolu Agency)
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Sep 20, 2022 - 02:50 AM

NEW YORK (AA) – Extraordinary security measures are being taken in New York City ahead of this week’s UN General Assembly, which will be attended by more than 100 heads of state and more than 50 heads of government from all over the world.

The New York Police Department (NYPD), the largest police department in the country, will work intensively in the city this week starting tomorrow with 55,000 officers.

In addition, there will be UN police, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and secret service personnel.

Recalling that last year, there was half the participation at the General Assembly due to the COVID-19 outbreak, NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said in a statement that this year’s gathering “will be the biggest UN event” they have had in a number of years.

Corey advised New Yorkers to use public transportation as much as possible this week.

Pointing out that there will be an influx of diplomats into New York City after the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, which will be held on Monday, he said certain areas will be completely closed to vehicles for security purposes and pedestrian traffic will be suspended tomorrow for this reason.

He noted that there have been no specific or significant threats so far, but despite this, all preparations have been made in the city to keep people safe.

Certain streets, avenues of Manhattan to be closed to traffic

The NYPD, which began preparing weeks before the opening of the UN General Assembly, completely closed the Midtown East neighborhood of Manhattan where the UN building is located to public traffic, erected metal barriers in the streets and set up mobile police watchtowers.

Ahead of the General Assembly week, heavy concrete barricades have also been placed at some points to protect against car bombings, and from tomorrow, during US President Joe Biden’s stay in the city, sand-loaded work trucks will be positioned around important buildings and street entrances, especially his hotel.

In particular, starting tomorrow, 1st Avenue from 42nd Street to 48th Street in the Midtown East neighborhood of Manhattan will be completely closed to normal traffic, while only president-level vehicle convoys will be allowed to move in this area.

Apart from this, the NYPD will keep many streets in midtown Manhattan, including parts of FDR Drive, completely closed or limited to traffic for a week for safety reasons.

Traffic in these areas will almost stop during the day, as most of the leaders who come for the UN General Assembly meetings stay at hotels around 5th Avenue, the busiest and most luxurious street in the city.

Police can also temporarily stop pedestrian traffic at the corners of many streets and avenues, especially during the movement of private vehicles of heads of state to the UN building.

Pedestrian traffic around UN building to also be limited

During the week, when world leaders will be making their addresses at the UN General Assembly, streets around the UN building will be closed to pedestrian traffic and become a completely closed area to the public.

Only those with UN badges can pass through this area after identity checks at certain security points where UN police, the NYPD, federal agents and secret service employees are located, after being checked by K-9 dogs.

UN badges also have their own security categories. While VIP badges will be given to delegations of heads of state and personnel who will accompany them, low-level diplomats, UN staff, members of the press and guests will be allowed limited access to certain areas within the UN.

UN to be protected by coast guard boats across East River

The UN building, which will be strictly protected on land by the NYPD, FBI and Secret Service, is also constantly on alert against threats of attack from the air and from the sea.

While snipers will be placed on the floors of some strategic buildings in the vicinity, especially on the roof of the UN building, security helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles belonging to the NYPD will establish air security over the city.

Armed boats belonging to the US Coast Guard and NYPD Special Operations units on the East River will be active during the opening of the UN General Assembly.

During the week of the UN General Assembly, especially on the days of high-level meetings attended by world leaders, within the framework of the extraordinary security measures taken, the East River will be completely closed to floating vehicle traffic between the Queensboro Bridge on 59th Street in the north and 35th Street in the south.

In normal times, vehicles moving on the East River are asked to pass 150 meters (0.09 miles) off the shore of the UN building. While permission must be obtained from the coast guard units to enter this area, those who violate this regulation can face a fine of $50,000 or imprisonment.

Area around UN building could be scene of demonstrations and protests

During the UN General Assembly, as well as the intensity of diplomatic traffic, various non-governmental organizations and groups can organize demonstrations and protests around the UN building to make their voices heard in the international community.

Activists can protest on streets opposite the UN building, especially at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza between 1st and 2nd avenues within the police cordon.

Apart from this region, while the fronts of the hotels where the heads of state are staying are also the scene of demonstrations of support or protests, demonstrations can be held in front of the building where the diplomatic missions are located.

*Writing by Beyza Binnur Donmez

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