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Italy Gives Safe Haven to National Geographic ‘Afghan Girl’

Sharbat Gula, better known as the green-eyed “Afghan girl” on the 1985 cover of National Geographic, has been evacuated to Italy, the Italian government said.

“Afghan citizen Sharbat Gula has arrived in Rome,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said on November 25.

The Italian government said it responded to requests from nonprofit organizations “for her to 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.”

With her piercing green eyes, peering out from a red head scarf, Gula became arguably Afghanistan’s most famous refugee when U.S. photographer Steve McCurry captured her portrait in a Pakistani camp in the 1980s and it was published on the front cover of National Geographic magazine.

Gula had arrived in Pakistan as an orphan in the early 1980s during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Her identity was only discovered in 2002 when McCurry returned to the region and tracked her down.

In 2016, she was deported back to Afghanistan after Pakistan said she held fraudulent identity papers.

In early September, Italy said it had evacuated almost 5,000 Afghans after the Taliban seized power in August.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and Reuters

Source: RFERL