ROME (AP) — National Geographic magazine’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” has arrived in Italy as part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans following the Taliban takeover of the country, the Italian government said Thursday.
According to the Office of Premier Mario Draghi, Italy organized Sharbat Gulla’s evacuation after the woman requested to be evacuated from the country. It was stated that the Italian government would now assist her in her integration into Italian life.
Gulla gained international fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee girl, after war photographer Steve McCurry’s photograph of her, with piercing green eyes, was published on the cover of National Geographic. McCurry found her once more in 2002.
She was arrested in Pakistan for purchasing a fake Pakistani ID card. The president flew her to Kabul and gave her the keys to her new apartment.
Italy was just one of many Western countries to airlift hundreds of Afghans into the country after August’s Taliban takeover and U.S. withdrawal.
In a statement announcing Gulla’s arrival in Rome, Draghi’s office said her photograph had come to “symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict of the chapter in history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at the time.”
It said it had received requests “by those in civil society, and in particular by non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan” backing Gulla’s plea for help to leave the country.
Italy organized her travel to Italy “as part of the wider evacuation program in place for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration,” the statement said.