Afghan girl pictured on National Geographic cover to be granted asylum

Image copyright AFP Image caption The refugee became famous after a photo of her went viral

The Afghan girl featured on the cover of National Geographic magazine is to receive asylum in Italy, ending a “silly and often disastrous” odyssey, her legal adviser has said.

Wojciech Nowicki said his client Rahin became a “virtual prisoner” in Iran for eight years, before receiving a temporary asylum permit from the United Nations.

She then fled to Syria but returned to Iran in 2015, seeking political asylum.

Rahin entered Europe through Turkey and made it to Italy, where she was found by a member of an Italian NGO, Proactiva Open Arms.

On 4 October 2016, the image of the nine-year-old wearing a white headscarf was featured on the cover of National Geographic, drawing global media attention.

Mr Nowicki said Rahin was accepted as a refugee by the UN refugee agency UNHCR on the recommendation of the International Organisation for Migration.

“I have personally spoken to both the UNHCR and the IOM on these two issues, and found neither to be strongly opposed to the generous asylum that Rahin is offered in Italy,” he said.

He said his client’s family remained in Iran, but had asked that he not be quoted as specifying where.

He added that his legal work was now “silly and often disastrous”, and that his client had not paid attention to “techniques of the international legal system”.

A spokesman for the head of Italy’s Refugees Commission, Luigi Massa, welcomed the application but cautioned that Rahin’s asylum status should be made definite, and with a time limit, in order that she was not in limbo for any longer.

Leave a Comment