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Green-eyed Afghan refugee in famous magazine cover flees to Rome

Sharbat Gula, the green-eyed Afghan woman immortalized decades ago on a National Geographic cover, has been evacuated to Italy, the Italian government says.

“Afghan citizen Sharbat Gula has arrived in Rome,” it says in a statement, without giving a specific date.

Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl photographed by journalist Steve McCurry for National Geographic in 1984 and again in 2003. (YouTube screenshot of photographs published by National Geographic)

Rome says it had responded to pleas from non-profit organizations working in Afghanistan to help her leave the Taliban-controlled country, “organizing for her to travel to Italy as part of the wider evacuation program in place for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration.”

Gula became arguably Afghanistan’s most famous refugee after photographer Steve McCurry captured her portrait in a Pakistan camp in the 1980s and it was published on the front cover of the National Geographic magazine.

In early September, Rome said it had evacuated almost 5,000 Afghans from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized power in August.

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