The green-eyed “Afghan Girl” made globally recognizable by National Geographic magazine’s cover was given refugee status by Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
According to the Italian PM’s office, Italy has organized the evacuation of Sharbat Gula after she requested to be helped to leave the country.
“The Prime Minister took it upon himself and organized her transfer to Italy within the broader context of the program for the evacuation of Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration” read the press statement.
The compelling portrait of 12-year-old Gula, who was a Pashtun orphan in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp on the Afghan-Pakistan border, was taken in December 1984 and published the following year. In 2014, she was found again in Pakistan but went into hiding because authorities accused her of having a fake Pakistani identity card and demanded she be deported. The President of Afghanistan welcomed her and gave her an apartment in Kabul where she has been living until now.
“Through Steve McCurry’s iconic photo, Sharbat Gula acquired global notoriety, to the point of symbolizing the vicissitudes and conflicts of the history that Afghanistan and its people were going through,” read the statement. The Italian government will now help her to integrate into life in Italy.
Now, in her late forties, and with the Taliban takeover of Kabul, Gula has arrived in Rome according the the Italian Prime Minister’s Office.
Italy and other Western countries have been racing to airlift thousands of Afghans out of the country following the departure of U.S. forces and the Taliban takeover in August.