‘Afghan Girl’ from National Geographic magazine cover granted refugee status in Italy

written by Hada MessiaNicolas Rotolo, CNNRome

The “Afghan Girl” became famous after being featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985 and granted refugee status by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, according to a statement from the Italian government press office.

The stunning photo of 12-year-old Sharbat Gula, a Pashtun orphan in a refugee camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, was taken in 1984 and published the following year. Gula was tracked down decades later living in Pakistan, after no one knew her name for years.

Gula, now in her late 40s, has arrived in Rome, according to the Italian prime minister’s office.

“In 1985, thanks to the photography of Steve McCurry, whom she photographed very young the year before in a refugee camp in Peshawar on the cover of National Geographic magazine, Sharbat Gula gained worldwide fame, so much so that it symbolizes the vicissitudes and struggles of the history of Afghanistan and its people Draghi’s office said in a statement.

Sharbat Gula in Kabul, Afghanistan, in November 2016. attributed to him: Harun Soap/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“In response to the requests of civil society workers, especially non-profit organizations operating in Afghanistan who, after the events of last August, received Sharbat Gula’s call to help them leave their country, the Prime Minister took it upon himself and organized their transfer to Italy within the broader context of the Afghan Nationals Evacuation Program And the government’s plan to receive and integrate them.”

CNN has asked the Italian government if the Gola family has also been granted refugee status, but has yet to hear back.

In 2016, McCurry told CNN the story behind the photo.

“I knew she had such an incredible look, an insight,” he said. “But there was a crowd of people around us, the dust was all around us, and that was before the digital cameras and you never knew what would happen to the film.”

McCurry said he knew the photo was private when he developed it.

“I showed it to the National Geographic editor, and he jumped up and screamed, ‘This is our next cover,'” he added.


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