Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed Afghan woman eternalized decades ago on a National Geographic cover, has been evacuated to Italy, the Italian government said. “Afghan citizen Sharbat Gula has arrived in Rome,” it was mentioned in a statement, without stating a particular date.
Rome said it had responded to pleas from non-profit organisations working in Afghanistan to help her leave the Taliban-controlled country, “organising for her to travel to Italy as part of the wider evacuation programme in place for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration.”
The 49-year-old became Afghanistan’s most famous refugee following US photographer Steve McCurry captured her portrait in a Pakistan camp in the 1980s and it was published on the front cover of the National Geographic magazine.
Gula said she had first arrived in Pakistan as an orphan, some four or five years following the Soviet invasion of 1979, one of millions of Afghans who have sought refuge over the border since.
She was reportedly deported back to Afghanistan in 2016 after she was arrested for living in Pakistan on fraudulent identity papers. In early September, Rome said it had evacuated almost 5,000 Afghans from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in August.
Afghan Girl is a 1984 photographic portrait of Sharbat Gula, also known as Sharbat Bibi, taken by photojournalist Steve McCurry. It appeared on the June 1985 cover of National Geographic. The image is of an adolescent girl with green eyes in a red headscarf looking intensely at the camera.