As Masouma Tajik walked the narrow, medieval streets of Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday, she was struck by the similarities to what she saw in Afghan cities before their fall to the Taliban. “There is an eerie silence I remember that had taken over Kabul in the night before August 15,” she said, referring to the day the Taliban seized the Afghan capital.
“I went outside to buy something to eat, but everything was closed. I went to Western Union to get money, and they didn’t have cash… just like in Kabul on the day of the fall,” she said. “There were no supplies, and banks didn’t work.”
But perhaps the most striking parallel was how swiftly the conflict in Ukraine escalated, Tajik said. “I did not realize it would happen this fast. This is Europe. But it is like Kabul all over again,” said the 23-year-old data analyst. “It doesn’t feel like it is real.”
As Russian troops invade Ukraine, Tajik, like hundreds of other Afghan refugees, finds herself in the middle of a war, just mere months after having escaped an another.
Over the past two weeks, Tajik, like thousands of Ukrainians, has moved from the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to the western city of Lviv and is now heading further west with the hopes of crossing over into Poland. “I left Herat and thought I was safe in Kabul, and then [the Taliban] came there too,” an exasperated Tajik said. “Now the same thing is happening here, I escaped from Kyiv to Lviv, and now I am looking for ways to leave this place.”
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