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The Afghan “Green-Eyed Girl” from the famous 1985 National Geographic cover was evacuated to Italy


The famous green-eyed Afghan girl from the 1985 National Geographic cover gets a safe haven in Italy after escaping the Taliban.

Sherbet Gula became the face The Afghan war with her piercing green eyes captured in an iconic photograph taken in a refugee camp in Pakistan when she was 12 years old.

Years later, Gula was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 for living in the country with false identity papers and deported back to war-torn Afghanistan.

The Italian government said Thursday that Gula, a widow and mother of four, had finally found her safe haven after arriving in Italy as part of the West’s evacuation of Afghans after the Taliban took control of the country.

Sharbat Gula became the face of the Afghan war after her piercing green eyes were captured in an iconic photo taken in a refugee camp in Pakistan when she was just 12 years old.

Years later, Gula was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 for living in the country with false identity papers and deported back to war-torn Afghanistan.  But Gula, a widow and mother of four, finally found a safe haven after arriving in Italy.  Pictured: Gula in 2016 after she was deported from Pakistan to Afghanistan

Years later, Gula was arrested in Pakistan in 2016 for living in the country with false identity papers and deported back to war-torn Afghanistan. But Gula, a widow and mother of four, finally found a safe haven after arriving in Italy. Pictured: Gula in 2016 after she was deported from Pakistan to Afghanistan

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said Italy organized Gula’s evacuation after it requested her help to leave the country. The statement said the Italian government will now help her integrate her into life in Italy.

Jola gained international fame in 1984 when she was an Afghan refugee, after she posted a picture of her, war photographer Steve McCurry, with piercing green eyes, on the cover of National Geographic.

National Geographic said at the time that an FBI analyst, forensic sculptor and inventor of iris recognition was verifying her identity.

In 2014, she appeared in Pakistan but went into hiding when authorities accused her of buying a fake Pakistani identity card in an attempt to live in the country.

She was arrested in 2016 and a Pakistani court ordered her deportation to Afghanistan.

The mother of four, now 40, was also sentenced to 15 days in prison and a fine of 110,000 Pakistani rupees (£841).

Gula (center) was arrested in 2016 and a Pakistani court ordered her deportation to Afghanistan

Gula (center) was arrested in 2016 and a Pakistani court ordered her deportation to Afghanistan

Gula and her four children were handed over to Afghan authorities at the Torkham border crossing, about 37 miles northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan.

She looked visibly unhappy and before crossing, she once turned to look at Pakistan, her home for many years, and muttered the good wishes of the Pakistani people, according to two customs officials at the scene.

From there she was flown to Kabul, where President Ashraf Ghani and his wife, Rula, held a reception at the presidential palace and handed her the keys to a new apartment.

Ghani said of Gula at the time: “When she was a child, she captured the hearts of millions because she was a symbol of displacement.

“The sheer beauty and sheer energy that she showed off her face captured hearts and became one of the most popular images of the ’80s through ’90s.”

Gula was deported to Afghanistan and met President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace when she returned to the war-torn country in 2016.

Gula was deported to Afghanistan and met President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace when she returned to the war-torn country in 2016.

Gula and her four children were handed over to Afghan authorities at the Torkham border crossing, about 37 miles northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan in 2016. From there they were flown to Kabul where President Ashraf Ghani and his wife Rula hosted a reception for Gula at the presidential palace (pictured I handed her the keys to a new apartment

Gula and her four children were handed over to Afghan authorities at the Torkham border crossing, about 37 miles northwest of Peshawar, Pakistan in 2016. From there they were flown to Kabul where President Ashraf Ghani and his wife Rula hosted a reception for Gula at the presidential palace (pictured I handed her the keys to a new apartment

Ghani added: ‘I am honored to welcome her. We are proud to see her living in dignity and safety in her homeland.

National Geographic’s 1985 photo of Gola, then 12, became the most famous cover in the magazine’s history.

After 17 years of searching, photographer Steve McCurry tracked Gula to a remote Afghan village in 2002 where she was married to a baker and mother of three daughters at the time.

Gula, who suffers from hepatitis C, told the media that her husband died several years ago.

Italy was one of several Western countries that have flown hundreds of Afghans out of the country after the departure of US forces and the Taliban’s seizure of power in August.

Since seizing power, Taliban leaders have said they will respect women’s rights according to Islamic law.

But under the Taliban from 1996 to 2001, women were unable to work and girls were prevented from going to school. The women had to cover their faces and be accompanied by a male relative when they left the house.



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