Afghan girl evacuated from famous cover photo to Italy

Afghan girl evacuated from famous cover photo to Italy

Rome The famous green-eyed “Afghan Girl” from National Geographic magazine has arrived in Italy as part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans after the Taliban took control of the country, the Italian government said Thursday.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said Italy organized the evacuation of Sharbat Gula after she requested her help to leave the country. The statement said the Italian government will now help her integrate her into life in Italy.

Jola gained international fame in 1984 when she was an Afghan refugee, after she posted a picture of her, war photographer Steve McCurry, with piercing green eyes, on the cover of National Geographic. McCurry found it again in 2002.

In 2014, she appeared in Pakistan but went into hiding when authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card and ordered her deportation. She was taken to Kabul where the president gave her a reception at the presidential palace and handed her keys to a new apartment.


Italy was one of several Western countries that have flown hundreds of Afghans out of the country after the departure of US forces and the Taliban’s seizure of power in August.

In a statement announcing Gula’s arrival in Rome, Draghi’s office said her portrait came “to symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict in the chapter of history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at that time.”

She said she had received requests “from those in civil society, particularly from non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan” to support Gula’s plea for help in leaving the country.

The statement said Italy had organized its travel to Italy “as part of the broader evacuation program in place for Afghan nationals and the government’s plan for their reception and integration.”

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