Tears are sometimes more eloquent than words: UNRWA spokesman says on Gaza

Bassem Aly , Thursday 31 Jul 2014

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness speaks to Ahram Online about his tears during a TV interview on the devastation in the Gaza Strip

Chris Gunness
A video snapshot of UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness during his interview with Al-Jazeera channel

In a quick phone conversation with Ahram Online, UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesman Chris Gunness spoke about his tears during a TV interview and the humanitarian situation in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

"Tears are sometimes more eloquent than words, but it cannot be compared to those of the Palestinian people in Gaza over their dead families and friends," Gunness, based in UNRWA's headquarters in the Palestinian territories, told Ahram Online.

Gunness was speaking to Al-Jazeera Arabic on Wednesday when he broke down live on air, bursting into tears after being asked to explain the scale of the Gazans' suffering.

The channel had no other choice but to take him out of the camera's view and end the interview.

Gunness described the humanitarian situation in Gaza as "catastrophic" and pointed out the unprecedented human displacement faced by civilians in the war-torn enclave.

He stated earlier that UNRWA -- the key UN body functioning in Gaza with its roughly two million citizens -- has 225,178 displaced in 86 shelters.

"Israel tells people to leave their homes, and soon tens of thousands of Palestinians will find themselves with no water, food, electricity, shelter or place to run or hide in," he warned.

The UN official also expressed pessimism over the maintenance of UN schools in Gaza as a shelter for Palestinians who either lost their houses or escaped them during Israeli airstrikes. The schools became a target of Israel's assaults, especially during the last week.

He concluded by saying the humanitarian cost of the war in Gaza will continue to grow as Israel resumes its attacks on the strip and Hamas sends more rockets into Israel.

UNRWA made an urgent appeal for $187 million on Thursday to buy beds and basic supplies for those who fled and to stem the rise of diseases in shelters.

So far, almost 1,400 Palestinians -- mostly civilians -- have been killed in such armed confrontations, with over 6,000 others injured. On its side, Tel Aviv announced the death of 56 soldiers and three civilians.

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