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‘Afghan Girl’ From National Geographic Evacuated to Italy at Age 49

  • “Afghan Girl” who was on the quilt of National Geographic in 1985 was simply evacuated to Italy.
  • Sharbat Gula, 49, lived anonymously for a few years in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • She’s in Rome as half an evacuation program for Afghan residents, Italian authorities stated. 

The “Afghan Girl” with piercing inexperienced eyes who gained worldwide recognition after showing on the quilt of a 1985 National Geographic has fled her dwelling nation and arrived in Rome.

The Italian authorities stated in a press release on Thursday that the transfer was “part of the wider evacuation programme in place for Afghan citizens” because the Taliban gained management of Afghanistan. CNN reported that she has been granted refugee standing by Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The woman, Sharbat Gula, now 49, was photographed in a Pakistani refugee camp throughout the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1984. 

At the time, Gula was roughly 12 years previous, and sitting in a tent getting used as a classroom. After her image was taken, she grew up, left the refugee camp within the early Nineties, began a household, and remained largely nameless till the American photographer who took her photograph, Steve McCurry, tracked her down once more in 2002.  

McCurry instructed NPR then that Gula had led a “relatively peaceful” and “traditional Pashtun” life. 

photographer steve mccurry seated, signing a book

Photographer Steve McCurry in October 2016. In the background is one in all his most well-known photos of an Afghan woman.

Felix Hörhager/image alliance through Getty Images


But then, in 2016, Gula was deported from Pakistan to Afghanistan after she was accused of shopping for a pretend Pakistani ID card. At the time, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed her again to the nation and promised to accommodate her in a furnished condo.

“I’ve said repeatedly, and I like to repeat it again, that our country is incomplete until we absorb all of our refugees,” Ghani stated on the time, the Guardian reported. 

Five years later, it was Ghani himself who fled Afghanistan, because the Taliban took management of the nation in August.

a protester holding up a sign with the photo of the afghan girl on it, which reads 'You Valued My Beauty, Now You Value My Life.'

A protester holds the well-known Afghan Girl photograph, a 1984 portrait of Sharbat Gula by photojournalist Steve McCurry on August 28, 2021, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Artur Widak/NurPhoto through Getty Images


McCurry instructed NPR the photograph of Gula is one that folks have a tendency to come back again to “over and over again.” 

“I think part of the chord that it struck in people all over the world is this combination of a young girl who’s very pretty, yet there seems to be something troubling about her,” he stated. “There’s a dignity, there’s a fortitude, there’s a lot of different levels.”

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