An Afghan woman who fled to Ireland from the Taliban has said she feels like she needs to “start from zero” as she rebuilds her life.
Arezo Rahimi was working as a journalist when US forces pulled out of her country in the summer of 2021.
With no major military opposition, the Taliban swept across Afghanistan and made a triumphant return to Kabul - nearly 20 years after Western forces ousted them from power.
Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show, Ms Rahimi said she was quite content with life before the return of the Taliban.
“I had my freedom,” she said.
“I finished high school, I started my internship, I found myself in society.”
Since 2021, life has changed dramatically for most Afghans; Human Rights Watch estimate 90% of the population face food insecurity and women have been stripped of any semblance of equality.
Previously, Ms Rahimi sometimes wore a hijab - a scarf that covers a woman’s hair - but the Taliban consider it immoral for a woman to show her face in public.
The burqa - a restrictive garment with only a few small holes for the eyes to see out of - is now compulsory once again and women are restricted from studying and working certain jobs.
Ms Rahimi decided to flee and is applying to study at university in Ireland.
“Now the Taliban took over I need to start from zero,” she said.
“I need to learn English, I need to learn how to write in English,” she said.
“I needed to move from my country and everything changed.”
In Ireland, Ms Rahimi says she has “lots of freedom” but she dreams of returning home one day.
“I would love to work in Afghanistan and work for my country,” she said.
“I feel like it’s my responsibility to work hard and study hard.
“I will try my best to make opportunities for other women in Afghanistan to continue their education and work.
“I hope I can do that.”
In the first first months after the return of the Taliban to power, the Government granted 510 visas to Afghan nationals hoping to move to Ireland.