Once upon a time "Girl with green eyes" flown out to Italy

A photo made Sharbat Gula a symbol of the problems of the Afghan people in the western world in the 1980s. Now Italy has flown them out to Rome.

In the 1980s she symbolized the suffering of the people in Afghanistan: Sharbat Gula, an Afghan woman who became known as the “girl with the green eyes” through a press photo, was flown to Italy after the Taliban came to power. “The Afghan citizen Sharbat Gula has arrived in Rome,” said the Italian government on Thursday. Rome “made possible and organized” her departure.

Gula became known as the “girl with the green eyes” three decades ago through a cover picture in “National Geographic” magazine. The now four-time mother and illiterate woman claims to have come to Pakistan as an orphan after the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

With this photo Gula became famous: “You have appreciated my beauty, now you value my life” demands a protester at a protest in August 2021. (Source: NurPhoto / imago images)

The then twelve-year-old girl was photographed there in the mid-1980s by photographer Steve McCurry in a refugee camp. The picture stood for the plight of Afghan refugees, who found a friendly welcome in Pakistan. The Afghan woman was sent back to her homeland in 2016 as Pakistan increased pressure on Afghan refugees to leave the country.

Alongside the USA, Turkey, Great Britain and Germany, Italy was the most heavily involved in the evacuation mission from Kabul after the radical Islamic Taliban took power there in August. About 123,000 people were flown out of Afghanistan via the international airlift within a few weeks.

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