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Merkel left speechless by sobbing Palestinian teen refugee

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been left momentarily speechless by a young Palestinian refugee during a televised discussion

Published: Updated:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was left momentarily speechless by a young Palestinian refugee during a televised discussion on public broadcaster NDR.

Reem, the young Palestinian who arrived from a refugee camp in Lebanon four years ago, addressed Merkel in perfect German saying “I have goals like anyone else. I want to study like them ... it’s very unpleasant to see how others can enjoy life, and I can’t myself.”

Merkel, who briefly struggling to find her words, got up and stroked the girls’ hair, and then responded by saying “politics is sometimes hard. You’re right in front of me now and you’re an extremely sympathetic person. But you also know in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon are thousands and thousands and if we were to say you can all come ... we just can’t manage it.”

In 2015 alone, the number of asylum seekers heading to Germany has reached nearly 450,000.

Merkel received extensive criticism and ridicule via social media for her response to the encounter under the Twitter hashtag #merkelstreichelt (Merkel strokes).

Left-wing commentator Sacha Lobo wrote: “"If you have the problem that you think Angela Merkel is too nice, watch this video and look out for the final phrase.”

"Christian, scientist, politician. But failed rhetorically and as a human on all fronts," another user judged.

"Explaining to a young girl on live camera that her fate doesn't matter to you - just shameful," wrote Jan Schnorrenberg, manager of the opposition Green party's youth wing.

After Merkel’s PR team later explained the encounter with a release on the “Living Well in Germany” website on Thursday, which said that at the end of the event, “everyone applauded one another after 90 minutes of lively discussion.”