The Untied Nations says European troops deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) have sexually abused children.
The UN said in a statement on Friday that peacekeepers from Georgia, France and another unnamed European country allegedly committed crimes, including rapes, mostly in 2014 in the country.
The UN staff said they interviewed a girl and a boy who were aged 7 and 9 respectively when they were allegedly abused in 2014 by French “Sangari” troops.
The girl said she had been abused by French soldiers “in exchange for a bottle of water and a sachet of cookies.”
“These are extremely serious accusations and it is crucial that these cases are thoroughly and urgently investigated,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
“Far too many of these crimes continue to go unpunished, with the perpetrators enjoying full impunity,” Hussein added.
According to the statement, the European Union is investigating the alleged child abuse. Georgia’s Defense Ministry also said it would investigate the allegations “as quickly as possible.”
The CAR has been hit by turmoil since 2013, when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Seleka group that had toppled the government in March that year.
In December 2013, France deployed military forces to the CAR, a former French colony, after the UN Security Council gave the go-ahead to sending troops to the country.
A spokesman for Zeid’s office said the 7-year-old was the youngest alleged victim so far in any of the CAR cases. The two children said other children were abused in a similar fashion in repeated incidents involving several French soldiers, according to the statement.