The famous "Afghan Girl" who graced the covers of National Geographic in 1984 was evacuated from Afghanistan to Italy on Thursday, Nov. 25, due to the Taliban’s current takeover of the country.

Sharbat Gulla, an Afghan refugee who found fame after her face and iconic green eyes were featured in a 1984 cover of National Geographic, arrived in Italy on Thursday after asking the Italian government for help to be evacuated out of her home country, the Associated Press reported.

Gulla was an Afghan refugee who escaped the country and settled in Pakistan without a proper identity card to her name. She was deported in 2014 in a crackdown by the Pakistani government regarding refugees without legal status, National Geographic reported in 2017.

“Afghanistan is only my birthplace, but Pakistan was my homeland and I always considered it as my own country,” Gulla said when she was deported back to Afghanistan. “I am dejected. I have no other option but to leave.”

Gulla returned to Afghanistan as a national symbol of hope, with then-President Ashraf Ghani giving her a new apartment and a promised stipend of $700 per month, as well as providing schooling for her four children.

“This woman is a symbol to Afghans and also a symbol to Pakistan,” Heather Barr, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

However, with the return of the Taliban in August 2021, Gulla felt that she and her family would be safer if she left the country for more accepting places. Italy, one of the countries that were accepting Afghans following the fall of Kabul, happily accepted the “Afghan Mona Lisa” to the country.

“[She and her photograph] symbolize the vicissitudes and conflict of the chapter in history that Afghanistan and its people were going through at the time,” the officer of Premier Mario Draghi said, also confirming that many organizations had asked the government for help in evacuating Gulla out of the country.

The government will provide help for Gulla and her children in order to allow them to integrate themselves into Italian society.

"Afghan Girl, 1984" by photographer Steve McCurry on display as part of "The National Geographic Collection: The Art of Exploration" at Christie's November 30, 2012 in New York. STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images

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