Sharbat Gula: Green-eyed Afghan girl of Nat Geo fame, now 49, finds haven in Italy

Italy has given Sharbat Gula a safe haven after the Taliban took over her homeland


                            Sharbat Gula: Green-eyed Afghan girl of Nat Geo fame, now 49, finds haven in Italy
Sharbat Gula whose 'green-eyed' photo in National Geographic (left) became a symbol of her country's wars in 1985 has now found a safe haven (Nat Geo and Getty Images)

The green-eyed Afghan girl from the famous National Geographic phone has found a safe haven a few months after the Taliban took over the country. Italy has assisted Sharbat Gula to find a shelter there. 

On Thursday, November 25, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's office announced that the country has planned to bring Gula, now 49, out of Afghanistan during their evacuation process. Sharbat Gula's travel is organized as a part of the evacuation process led by Italy helping the Afghan citizens as they look forward to leaving the nation after the Taliban re-took control over the nation.

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Announcing Sharbat Gula's arrival in Rome, the office of Mario Draghi said, "In response to the requests made by those in civil society, and in particular by non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan, who, after the events of last August, have supported Sharbat Gula in her plea for help to leave her country, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers has made this possible, organizing for 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." 

Sharbat Gula gained worldwide fame after she was featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985. Her photo, which is known for her strikingly beautiful green eyes, was taken by the war photographer, Steve McCurry. It was shot when she was present in the refugee camp in northwest Pakistan amid the Soviet-Afghanistan war.

However, her identity was not known to anyone. Gula's identity was revealed by McCurry in 2002 when he returned to the region and tracked her. She was 12 years old when she was photographed. She is a widow now and has four children. 

Sharbat Gula on the magazine cover of National Geographic in 1985 (Twitter)

It is known that Gula was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 because she was carrying a fake identity card. However, she did not accept the charges. After some time of being arrested, she was deported to Afghanistan. To everyone's surprise, she was warmly welcomed by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Ghani gave her the keys to her apartment.

Now, Gula has arrived in Italy, three months after the United States decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan which resulted in the Taliban getting control over the nation. Italy evacuated and saved more than 5,000 Afghans becoming the only country in the European Union that has saved these many citizens from Afghanistan.

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