The green-eyed Afghan girl, Sharbat Gula, from the famous 1985 cover of National Geographic, was arrested in Pakistan on Oct. 26 for living in the country with false papers.
There are currently about 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and many of them do not have the proper documentation to stay in the country. The Pakistani government has made efforts to close down Afghan camps and to find all those who have false identity cards.
Gula’s image represented the struggle of the Middle East in 1984. Her recent arrest represents the struggle of those who have been displaced because of the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East since the time of the Gulf Wars, when the United States initiated a stream of events that would lead to the displacement of millions of people.
More people are displaced in the world now than after World War II — there were 65.3 million displaced people at the end of 2015, and 54 percent of these refugees come from Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria, and are looking for refuge wherever they can find it, however it can be found.
It is thought that the ongoing state of war in Afghanistan, since 1992, has sparked conflicts in Syria and South Sudan. However, it’s not as if the U.S. has not been present militaristically in the Middle East and aided in many of the wars.
If history teaches anyone anything, it’s that the U.S. has a horrible reputation in aiding refugees from the countries it has invaded. In the past decade, 230,000 Iraqi refugees have been referred to the U.S.; only 119,202 were approved in the U.S. Many refugees were not even granted their asylum interviews.
The U.S. decides whom it allows into the country based on background checks. The information used to screen Iraqi refugees was collected through the 2003 invasion. Even with this information, the U.S. only accepted 52 percent of Iraqi refugees into the country, which raises the question of what is going to happen to Syrian refugees or any others who seek asylum here?
Right now, Syria is the country that produces the most refugees in the world, and as the Syrian conflict gets worse, more people will be seeking asylum. President Barack Obama said that the U.S. would take at least 10,000 refugees. But seeing that there are so many barriers set in place by the government, no one knows how long it will take to allow Syrians to resettle in the U.S.