Sharbat Gula left Afghanistan after Taliban takeover that followed US departure from country
Sharbat Gula was photographed by Steve McCurry in 1984 for National Geographic magazine. Photograph: BK Bangash/AP
National Geographic magazine’s famed green-eyed “Afghan Girl” has arrived in Italy as part of the west’s evacuation of Afghans after the Taliban takeover of the country, the Italian government has said.
The office of the prime minister, Mario Draghi, said Italy organised the evacuation of Sharbat Gula after she asked to be helped to leave the country. The Italian government would help to get her integrated into life in Italy, the statement said on Thursday.
Gula gained international fame in 1984 as an Afghan refugee girl, after the 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 was 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 flat.
Italy was one of several western countries that airlifted hundreds of Afghans out of the country after the departure of US forces and the Taliban takeover in August.