‘Afghan Girl’ from National Geographic Magazine Cover Evacuated to Italy

Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” from the 1985 National Geographic magazine cover, has received refugee status from the Italian government.

“Afghan citizen Sharbat Gula has arrived in Rome,” the Presidency of the Council of Ministers in Italy said in a statement on Nov. 25.

The Italian government did not specify when Gula arrived in the Italian capital.

The Italian government said that Gula’s evacuation was in response to requests from non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan to help her leave the country after the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government and seized control three months ago following the withdrawal of United States troops.

According to the Italian government, Gula’s travel to Italy was “part of the wider evacuation program in place for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration.”

Gula came to international renown after U.S. war photographer Steve McCurry took a photo of her in a Pakistan refugee camp in 1984 when she was 12 years old. National Geographic published the photo on its front cover the following year.

Gula was one of millions of Afghans who sought refuge over the border after the Soviet invasion of 1979.

“She went on to symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict of the chapter in history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at the time,” the Italian government said.

Gula was flown back to Afghanistan in 2016 after authorities accused her of living in Pakistan on fraudulent identity papers.

Gula is now in her late 40s.

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