The ‘Green-Eyed Afghan Girl’ from the cover of National Geographic flees the Taliban and seeks refuge in Italy.
Sharbat Gula, the “green-eyed Afghan child” who rose to fame after appearing on a National Geographic cover, has been granted asylum in Italy, according to the Italian authorities.
Gula, with her stunning emerald eyes, was captured in a refugee camp on the Pakistan-Afghan border and appeared on the cover of National Geographic in June 1985. At the moment, she was 12 years old. Her face told the narrative of many families who had been uprooted from their homes and forced to flee war-torn countries in search of safety. Gula had to leave behind the life she knew in Afghanistan and go to Rome again more than three decades after the photograph was taken, according to NPR.
This comes three months after the United States pulled its soldiers out of Afghanistan.
Gula, 49, was evacuated by Italy after she pleaded for assistance in leaving Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover. According to a statement from Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office, she will now receive assistance from the Italian government in settling into her new life.
Gula originally fled Afghanistan in 1984, during the Soviet occupation, and sought asylum in Pakistan. According to National Geographic, she had journeyed on foot with her brothers and grandmother to the refugee camp in Pakistan when photographer Steve McCurry encountered her.
In 2016, McCurry told CNN, “I realized she had an outstanding look, a penetrating glance.” “However, there was a mob around us, dust was whirling about, and this was before digital cameras, so you never knew what would happen to the film.” “When I showed it to the National Geographic editor, he sprang to his feet and said, ‘That’s our next cover,'” he continued.
Gula became the face of the Afghan War, but for years, no one knew her name.
In 2002, McCurry traced her out, and her identification was confirmed, and she was once again featured on the cover of National Geographic.
Gula was a refugee in Pakistan for more than 35 years. She was detained in 2016 on suspicion of possessing a forged identification card. She was held in a detention center for two weeks before being deported to Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani, at the time, greeted her warmly and handed her the keys to her new apartment.