David Shearer, second left, the United Nations peacekeeping mission chief in South Sudan, visits the troubled region of Yei, South Sudan, July 13. 2017. Shearer says he's considering putting a permanent U.N. presence in the town, but only if the gove...
David Shearer, second left, the United Nations peacekeeping mission chief in South Sudan, visits the troubled region of Yei, South Sudan, July 13. 2017. Shearer says he's considering putting a permanent U.N. presence in the town, but only if the gove...

JUBA AND BOR SOUTH SUDAN - United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) chief David Shearer said Tuesday that increased inter-communal clashes are causing more suffering in South Sudan and could unravel the country’s fragile peace agreement.   

Between January and May of this year, the U.N. recorded 415 violent incidents between communities, up from the 129 recorded during the same period in 2018.  

In one incident last month, a group of armed youth suspected of being from the Greater Pibor Administrative Area raided the villages of Pieri and  Pamai in Uror County of Jonglei state. More than 200 people were killed, and 300 others wounded, in those attacks according to local officials. VOA could not independently verify those numbers due to insecurity in the area. 

“Since December 2019, there has been an escalating cycle of violence in Jonglei [state] involving the Dinka, Nuer and Murle communities. Hundreds of people have been killed or injured, women and children abducted, cattle stolen, homes burnt to the ground and thousands forced to flee to escape the violence,” Shearer said. 

Violent attacks by armed groups also have occurred in northern Unity state, near Ruweng, as well as along the borders of Lakes and Warrap states, according to the UNMISS chief. Equally worrying, said Shearer, are reports that men in uniform are taking part in the clashes. 

“Fighters in uniform have been observed amongst those engaged in the violence indicating that more organized forces may be joining,” Shearer told VOA. 

South Sudanese parties recently formed a transitional unity government after more than a year of stop-and-start negotiations. The government and opposition groups had signed a peace deal in August 2018 to replace a failed agreement from three years earlier. 

Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in a civil war that broke out between forces allied to President Salva Kiir and his rival, Riek Machar, in December 2013.