Raoul* is a citizen of an African country who was kidnapped by a rebel group when he was 11 years old. He was recently granted asylum through Casa Cornelia’s Pro Bono program.
Raoul was just 11 years old when a group of rebels came to his village in Africa to forcibly recruit boys and young men to fight against the government. His parents resisted the rebels, and they were killed while trying to protect their boys. Orphaned, Raoul was taken to a rebel camp where he was repeatedly raped, stabbed, and beaten.
One day, when told to fetch water, Raoul managed to escape. Once he reached a camp of government soldiers, he asked for help, but instead was accused of being part of the rebel group. He was handcuffed, beaten, and locked up for days. When the soldiers allowed him to step out of the room to relieve himself, Raoul escaped again.
He then met a large group of people who were also running from violence, and crossed to another country that had a UN refugee camp. UNHCR officers registered the group, including Raoul, as refugees and took them to a camp. They all received ration cards for food, which was Raoul’s only identity document at the time. Raoul lived in this camp for 13 years and was not allowed to leave. He went to school at the camp and worked at a trade. Eventually, he developed feelings and started a relationship with another man.