Correspondent in Rome
The intensity of his gaze, with his magnetic green eyes drew everyone’s attention. From today Sharbat Gula he is safe in Rome, thanks to the management of the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi. The name will probably be remembered by few. But the image of her face, her incredible look when she was a 12-year-old girl, is known on five continents, thanks to the portrait made in 1984 by the famous American photographer Steve McCurry. Gula was then in a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan. A year later it was published on the cover of National Geographic magazine, with the title: “Afghan Girl.” The photo became an icon. Today it remains a symbol to remember all the Afghan conflicts.
Gula was a seven-year-old girl when Afghanistan was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1979. All her life she remained in her country, in the midst of the endless war in Afghanistan. Until today. Sharbat landed in Rome, according to a statement released this afternoon by Chigi Palace, headquarters of the government headquarters: “Responding to requests from members of civil society and, in particular, from non-profit organizations active in Afghanistan that, following the events of last August, they received a call from Sharbat Gula to be help to leave your country, the Presidency of the Council of Ministers has promoted and organized his transfer to Italy, in the broader context of the evacuation program for Afghan citizens and the government’s plan for their reception and integration, ”the statement from Palacio Chigi indicated.
Today Sharbat Gula is 49 years old. It is very different from when McCurry portrayed her in 1984 in the refugee camp in Peshawar. But his green eyes and his gaze of incredible intensity remain the same, as McCurry himself documented. The American photographer organized in 2002, seventeen years after the first photograph, an expedition with National Geographic to look for her in pakistan. There were few traces. Among them, a brother of Gula. After a few months of research,
McCurry managed to find the identity of the young woman and her hometown. After a long journey, the American photographer found his muse in a remote region of Afghanistan, married with three daughters. “I had no doubt that this was the girl I had photographed years ago. His eyes were the same, he had the same distinctive scar on your nose and facial features. I knew right away it was her, ”McCurry said after finding her. The photographer was able to immortalize her again, also showing her that famous photo that she had not seen yet and that earned her the nickname “Mona Lisa of the war in Afghanistan.”
Its history has been turbulent. Gluttony He has lived through an ordeal. Between the ages of 13 and 16 she was forced to marry a man named Rahmat Gul, who later left her a widow. In 1992 he managed to move to Pakistan with his three daughters. Shortly after, she was arrested on the accusation of having used false documents to establish herself in the country. There was requested a false identity card, claiming that she was born in Pakistan and that her name was Sharbat Bibi.
Only in 2016 was she able to return to Afghanistan, where she was received by the then president Ashraf Ghani, who handed him the keys to an apartment in Kabul. But last summer, with the return of the Taliban to power, his ordeal began again. Sharbat Gula tried again to escape, to be a refugee for the umpteenth time.
Now with his arrival in Rome and Italian action, Gula regains hope, with the desire to be able to finally find some peace.