NBCNEWS, Sharbat Gula, known as the green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’ from the 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine, has received patronage in Italy.
As reported by NBCNews to the NYPost, Sugar’s arrival in Italy was part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans following the Taliban’s takeover of the country.
Sugar’s arrival in Italy was confirmed on Thursday (25/11) by the Office of Prime Minister Mario Draghi. In his statement, Draghi revealed that Italy arranged the evacuation after Sharbat asked for help to leave the country.
“Italy has organized the evacuation in response to requests made by non-profit organizations that have worked in Afghanistan after the takeover of the Taliban in August. The organization has supported Sharbat Gula in her plea to help leave her country.
“The Presidency of the Council of Ministers has made this possible, arranging for him to travel to Italy as part of a wider evacuation program for Afghans,” Draghi’s office said in a statement Thursday.
Sugar is now in the city of Rome, according to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. The Italian government will help make it integrated into life in Italy, the statement said.
Sugar gained international fame after US war photographer Steve McCurry photographed him nearly four decades ago. At that time, Gula who was still very young, was photographed in a refugee camp in northwest Pakistan during the Soviet-Afghan war. In that portrait, McCurry managed to catch Gula’s sharp green eyes. His identity was revealed in 2002 when McCurry returned to the region and tracked him down.
By the Italian government, Sugar’s photo has become a symbol of conflict in Afghanistan’s dark history.
“He then symbolized the changes and conflicts in this chapter of history that Afghanistan and its people were experiencing at that time,” the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers said in a statement.
When McCurry photographed, Sugar was 12 years old. Now, the Afghan woman is 49 years old and a widow with four children. He briefly appeared in Pakistan in 2014. However, at that time, he went into hiding because the authorities accused him of buying fake Pakistani ID cards. After that he was deported and flown to Kabul where the president hosted a welcome for him to keys to a new apartment.
Italy was one of a number of Western countries that flew hundreds of Afghans out of the country following the departure of US troops and the takeover of the Taliban in August.