Government and rebel forces in South Sudan abducted hundreds of women and girls this year with many raped and forced into sexual slavery, the UN mission to the country said.
Other young people were forced to become child soldiers, according to a report by the UN Mission in South Sudan, which said many abducted remain in captivity.
The abuses were committed during a civil war by forces loyal to the government of President Salva Kiir and rebels fighting for Riek Machar. The abductions violate international law and may amount to war crimes, the report said.
“The girls are sometimes only 12 years old and were chosen as wives for the military. They had to parade in front of them and soldiers could choose who they wanted. They used them and of course they were raped and subjected to sexual slavery,” the report said.
Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied the allegations.
“We have no evidence showing we committed the allegations levelled against us. We have to tell them: they should bring evidence not only a report from Geneva and New York,” he said.
Rebel spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel said: “The leadership of the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army) will investigate these accusations through a right channel and bring anyone found guilty to book so justice is served”.
The report’s publication followed an investigation between April and August in the south-west of the country.
South Sudan’s civil war began in 2013. The two sides signed a peace treaty last month. Around four million people have been displaced during the conflict.