The ‘Afghan girl’ who appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985 has arrived safely in Italy following the Taliban takeover.
Sharbat Gula – now in her 40s – was pictured with her ‘piercing’ green eyes the year before, when photographer Steve McCurry met her in a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Her identity was revealed when Steve returned to the area in 2002.
She then met with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, who committed to providing her with an apartment to ensure she ‘lives with dignity and security in her homeland’.
After the National Geographic cover was published, Sharbat ‘went on to symbolise the vicissitudes and conflict’ Afghan citizens were going through at the time, according to the Italian government.
Confirming her safe evacuation to Rome, the office of prime minister Mario Draghi said the request was granted following calls by non-profit organisations in Afghanistan.
The office said in a statement: ‘The presidency of the Council of Ministers has made this possible, 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.’
According to Italy’s interior minister, Luciana Lamorgese, some 5,000 Afghans were evacuated to the country over the summer, when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban following the withdrawal of US troops.
Earlier this month, the Italian government signed a protocol confirming that it will allow around 1,200 more refugees into the country through humanitarian corridors.
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