The devastating civil war in the Central African Republic (CAR) is being funded through "lucrative deals" with rebel groups in favour of European timber companies, campaign group Global Witness has alleged in a new report published by the BBC.
These companies paid millions of dollars to rebel groups involved in war crimes, the report stated.
French, Chinese and Lebanese Timber companies paid more than $4 million, mainly for protection services to rebels in 2013, the report said.
Rebels from all factions of the conflict have been accused by the UN of mass murder, kidnappings, rapes and the forced recruitment of child soldiers.
The report also accuses the EU of failing to prevent imports of illegal timber to Europe, despite European regulations against illegal timber.
Two-thirds of timber exports from the CAR go to European countries, with French, German and Belgian companies trading specifically in the commodity, the report stated.
"It is tragically ironic that while European governments invested hundreds of millions of euros in military and peacekeeping operations in CAR, those same governments have failed to keep conflict timber off EU markets," Alexandra Pardal, Campaign Leader for Global Witness said in a statement.
France, one of the European countries receiving timber illegally, deployed 1,600 troops to the country back in 2013 in a bid to disarm warring militias, and a 700-strong European peacekeeping mission to "establish security" in the capital Bangui ended in early 2015.
French troops who were present in CAR have been accused of forcing children to perform sexual acts in exchange for crumbs of food between December 2013 and June 2014.
Almost 12,000 international troops are still based in the country as part of the UN peacekeeping mission in the CAR.