UN Correspondents Association (UNCA)

The UN Correspondents Association (UNCA) has expressed shock plans to house up to 3,000 visiting journalists in a bunker two floors below ground during this year’s annual gathering of world leaders for the General Assembly.

“The new location is far-removed from the main news events during the week and further restricts already a limited movement,” said UNCA, which represents journalists working at UN headquarters in New York, in a statement.

The new location is four flights of stairs (or 45 steps) down, and the only access is two narrow staircases.

There is restricted access to one elevator for people with disabilities.

“Not only is it far from the action, imagine those who have to carry heavy media equipment up and down all those stairs,” reminded Melissa Kent, a UNCA member, on Twitter.

In 2017, the visiting journalists were housed in a large conference room within the building complex.

The packed agenda of the week-long General Debate VIP session is already a nightmare for journalists covering the events.

During th 2017 General Debate, 421 meetings were held plus 356 side events and 1,528 bilateral meetings.

This year, 156 heads of state and government are expected to speak at the General Assembly, according to a provisional list released in July.

Many of them, like in the past, will speak to each other.

“Is the UN trying to squeeze the media out of #UNGA73? Do UN member states want the press to cover their visiting leaders?” asked UNCA, using the hashtag for this year’s General Assembly.