On Thursday, Nov. 24, “Afghan Girl” Sharbat Gulla, the well-known green-eyed face cover of National Geographic magazine, has safely left Kabul and finally reached Italy. 

According to the Italian government, her departure was part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans after the Taliban had fully taken control of Pakistan, as AP News reported.

In 1984, Gulla caught the photographer Steve McCurry’s eyes with her impressive and captivating green eyes. 

Gulla later appeared on the National Geographic cover as an Afghan refugee girl with piercing green eyes, which helped her receive worldwide recognition since then.

In 2002, McCurry ran into her again.

Gulla emerged in Pakistan in 2014 but went into hiding after authorities charged her with possessing a counterfeit Pakistani identity card followed by a deportation command, as AP News reported. 

She was later flown to Kabul, where she was granted a reception at the presidential palace and received the keys to a new apartment.

Mario Draghi, The office of Premier, stated that Italy performed the evacuation of Sharbat Gulla in response to her plea for help to leave the country. The statement also informed that the Italian government would support her in adapting to a new life in Italy. 

Draghi’s office had received requests “by those in civil society, and in particular by non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan,” which supported Gulla’s call for help. 

In an announcement of Gulla’s arrival in Rome, Draghi’s office stated that Gulla’s picture had appeared to “symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict of the chapter in history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at the time.”

After the U.S. forces’ retirement and the complete control of Pakistan by the Taliban since August, Italy was one among several Western countries which helped rescue hundreds of Afghans to leave Pakistan on flights.  

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