National Geographic’s ‘Afghan Girl’ given asylum in Italy

The National Geographic’s ‘Afghan Girl’, who was immortalised more than 30 years ago on the front cover of the magazine, has arrived in Rome after being evacuated from Afghanistan following the return of the Taliban.

The Italian government has made the official announcement that green-eyed Sharbat Gula, who was photographed in 1984 at a refugee camp in Pakistan, had reached Rome this Thursday, November 25. She had gone to Pakistan at 4 or 5 years old following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, having fled the country along with thousands of others. She was just 12 years old when the photo was taken by Steve McCurry, and it made her into an emblem of the suffering and economic instability of the region.

Her image caught the world’s attention a second time in 2002, when the same photographer went back to Afghanistan to find her again. He found that she was still living in poverty, and once again, she appeared on the front cover of the National Geographic. Gula, an illiterate mother of 4, had no idea that millions of people around the world had seen her photo and that she had sparked an international movement for the rights of refugees.

In 2016 she was sent back to Afghanistan against her will. Gula requested to be evacuated from the country, and the Italian government arranged for her transportation to Italy, where she has been received with open arms.


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Written by

Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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