Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Sharbat Gula: Italy takes in green-eyed ‘Afghan Girl’

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Italy has given safe haven to Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed “Afghan Girl” whose 1985 photo in National Geographic became a symbol of her country’s wars, Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office said on Thursday.

The government intervened after Gula asked for help to leave Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover of the country in August, a statement said, adding that her arrival was part of a broader programme to evacuate and integrate Afghan citizens.

U.S. photographer Steve McCurry took the picture of Gula when she was a youngster, living in a refugee camp on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Her startling green eyes, peering out from a headscarf with a mixture of ferocity and pain, made her know internationally but her identity was only discovered in 2002 when McCurry returned to the region and tracked her down.

An FBI analyst, forensic sculptor and the inventor of iris recognition all verified her identity, National Geographic said at the time.

In 2016, Sharbat Gula was arrested in Pakistan for forging a national identity card in an effort to live in the country.

The then Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, welcomed her back and promised to give her an apartment to ensure she “lives with dignity and security in her homeland”.

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