Reproduced from New York Post
Diplomats from Third World countries say the area around the United Nations is crawling with more vagrants than their impoverished homelands.
“America is the one of the richest countries in the world, and New York is one of the richest cities. But there are more homeless people here than there are in Gambia,” said that nation’s attaché Alieu Samba, 74, whose African nation ranks 182nd out of 194 global economies.
“When officers come here from Gambia for a meeting, they see all these homeless people laying down on benches. They say, ‘What are they doing there?’ ”
Ivory Coast diplomat Dogu Gnahore, whose country’s poverty rate is more than 40 percent, said that “in Africa, we think of America as a place in the sky.”
“It’s very shocking to see how it really is,” said Gnahore, 53. “I can’t understand how in New York, you can come and see people living on the street.”
A staffer at the Guyanese consulate, Courtney Noel, said homelessness in his impoverished South American country isn’t nearly as glaring as in Manhattan’s Turtle Bay.
“It’s ironic and embarrassing that they’re right in front of the United Nations,” he said.
“We’re an organization that seeks to protect and help people around the world, and here, there’s poverty right in your face.”
A diplomat from war-torn Iraq called the hordes of bums “a very painful thing to see.”
“In Baghdad, we have a lot of homeless, too. But at least the social network is very strong there,” he said.
At Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, a city park dubbed the Gateway to the United Nations, The Post spotted about 20 disheveled people sleeping or otherwise killing time Tuesday afternoon.
One man kicked off his sneakers and curled on a bench next to a pile of belongings, while a small clique gathered along the edge of a fountain, amid empty beverage containers and other litter.
The superintendent at a nearby apartment building said the number of homeless people in the area had surged recently — and was ruining the Big Apple’s reputation.
“People from 180 other countries come through here and take that image back home,” said Mohammed Mroueh, 56.
“They do their laundry, they shave, they shower. You even see them making love under the blankets,” he added.
Indian diplomat Man Soni faulted Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration for not addressing the problem.
“The city should be doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “We have extreme poverty in some parts of India. Poverty is there, but homelessness is much less. Society takes care of them.”
A UN tech worker said the situation reminded him of when he immigrated from Russia 25 years ago and then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani was starting to crack down on quality-of-life offenses.
“[Ex-Mayor Michael] Bloomberg did an excellent job taking the torch from Giuliani. But with de Blasio, things are getting worse,” he said.
The president of the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza said the situation was so bad that the nonprofit started shelling out “thousands of dollars” to have The Doe Fund send ex-homeless people to clean up the park twice a day.
Sherrill Kazan said public drinking, drug use and worse — including urination and defecation — also had her group “talking about actual surveillance” of the park.
“If you can’t monitor it, you can’t control it,” she said.