Nov 25, 2021 - World

"Afghan girl" on 1985 cover of National Geographic evacuated to Italy

Sharbat Gula is seen after she was welcomed by Afghan president Ashraf Ghani at presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on November 9, 2016.

Sharbat Gula is seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Nov. 9, 2016. Photo: Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Image

Sharbat Gula, who became known internationally as "Afghan girl" after she was featured on a 1985 cover of National Geographic, has arrived in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's office said on Thursday.

Driving the news: Gula, who was pictured in National Geographic when she was 12 years old, was evacuated after appealing for help to leave the country following the Taliban's takeover in August, Draghi's office said.

US photographer Steve McCurry poses next to his photos of the "Afghan Girl"
U.S. photographer Steve McCurry poses next to his photo, "Afghan Girl," at an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, in 2013. Photo: Ulrich Perrey/AFP via Getty Images
  • Steve McCurry took Gula's photo in a refugee camp on the Pakistan-Afghan border, but her identity wasn't known until the U.S. photographer traveled back to the region in 2002 to track her down, according to National Geographic.

What they're saying: Gula's photograph came to "symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict of the chapter in history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at the time," Draghi's office said in a statement.

  • The company organized her evacuation "as part of the wider evacuation program in place for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration," it added.

The big picture: Since the Taliban declared victory in Afghanistan, Afghan women and girls have faced an uncertain future, with many fearing the total loss of the hard-won rights to education, employment and other freedoms.

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