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'Afghan Girl' From 1984 Photo Has Now Fled to Italy

Sharbat Gulla was on 'National Geographic' cover
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 26, 2021 3:37 AM CST
National Geographic 's 'Afghan Girl' Evacuated to Italy
National Geographic's famed green-eyed "Afghan Girl" Sharbat Gulla poses for a photo during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, at the Presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Nov. 9, 2016.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

(Newser) 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. The office of Premier Mario Draghi said Italy organized the evacuation of Sharbat Gulla after she asked to be helped to leave the country, the AP reports. The Italian government will now help to get the 49-year-old integrated into life in Italy, the statement said.

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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 again in 2002. In 2014, she surfaced in Pakistan but went into hiding when authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card and ordered her deported. She was flown to Kabul where the president hosted a reception for her at the presidential palace and handed her keys to a new apartment. Italy was one of several Western countries that airlifted hundreds of Afghans out of the country following the departure of US forces and the Taliban takeover in August.

(Read more Afghanistan stories.)

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