By United Nations

19 January - The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today deplored the death of a French photojournalist who lost his life on Monday following injuries he sustained while covering demonstrations in Tunisia.

The death of Lucas Mebrouk Dolega is a tragic reminder of the difficult and dangerous situations in which media professionals must often work,” the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, said in a statement.

Tunisia's president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, fled the country last week amid growing protests and violence by protesters reportedly angered by rising prices of essential commodities, lack of employment opportunities, alleged corruption and limitations on fundamental rights and freedoms. On Tuesday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced renewed concern at the growing violence in Tunisia, and urged that all efforts be taken to restore peace and stability.

Journalists stand as witnesses to the events and actions that shape our lives and societies,” Ms. Bokova said in her statement. “Their work contributes to the development of transparent and accountable decision-making, which is one of the conditions demanded by today's citizens.”

Ms. Bokova added that national authorities everywhere have a responsibility to ensure that the media works in secure conditions, and called for efforts to shed light on the circumstances of Mr. Dolega's death.

Mr. Dolega, 32, was a photographer with the European Press Agency. He reportedly succumbed to injuries sustained when he was hit by a tear gas canister while covering demonstrations in Tunis on 14 January.