Chris Gunness says he has no regrets over airing of moment of private grief if it focuses attention on plight of Gazan children
It was an unexpected moment of anguish, never intended to be seen by anyone other than his close colleagues. But a video of a United Nations official sobbing, with his head in his hands, over the plight of children in Gaza has become one of the many memorable images of the war.
Chris Gunness, spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, was being interviewed by al-Jazeera Arabic on Wednesday about the shelling of one of the organisation’s schools in Gaza, in which at least 15 people died and scores were injured. The school was crammed with families who had fled their homes after warnings from the Israeli military to leave or be bombed. The interview was one of dozens Gunness gave on the incident.
“It was a live interview, and I just about got through it, just about held it together,” Gunness, 54, told the Guardian. “But what really makes my heart burst is the suffering of children, and I was so moved by the appalling attack on the school in Jabaliya that I couldn’t control myself any longer.”
Chris Gunness at the end of the al-Jazeera Arabic interview PR Gunness began sobbing after the presenter in Doha had signed off at the end of the live interview. Unknown to him, al-Jazeera’s camera kept rolling, and the station later broadcast the entire segment. “For me, it was a moment of private grief. I had no idea it had been broadcast until friends started calling and texting me,” he said.
But, he added, “if my tears focus attention on the wholesale denial of human dignity in Gaza, then I have no regrets.”