Aaj TV

National Geographic 'Afghan girl' evacuated to Italy

26 Nov, 2021
Sharbat Gula said she first arrived in Pakistan an orphan. AFP
Sharbat Gula said she first arrived in Pakistan an orphan. AFP

Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed Afghan woman immortalised decades ago on a National Geographic cover, has been evacuated to Italy, the Italian government said on Thursday.

"Afghan citizen Sharbat Gula has arrived in Rome," it said in a statement, without giving a specific date.

Rome said it had responded to pleas from non-profit organisations working in Afghanistan to help her leave the Taliban-controlled country, "organising for her to travel to Italy as part of the wider evacuation programme in place for Afghan citizens and the government's plan for their reception and integration".

Gula became arguably Afghanistan's most famous refugee after US photographer Steve McCurry captured her portrait in a Pakistan camp in the 1980s and it was published on the front cover of the National Geographic magazine.

Gula said she first arrived in Pakistan an orphan, some four or five years after the Soviet invasion of 1979, one of millions of Afghans who have sought refuge over the border since.