Crying refugee girl puts Merkel on spot
Updated: 2015-07-18 08:07
German Chancellor Angela Merkel came under criticism on Thursday for her awkward treatment of a young refugee brought to tears by the German chancellor's comments on asylum.
A video of the encounter on Wednesday afternoon at a community event in Rostock showed the Palestinian teenager telling Merkel that her family had been waiting four years to get permanent permission to remain in Germany.
"It's really unpleasant to watch others enjoy their life and not be able to enjoy it oneself," the girl told Merkel, saying she wanted to go to college.
In response, Merkel told her "sometimes politics is hard" and Germany can't accommodate everyone who wants to live there. Since the teen's family had previously lived in Lebanon, a country Germany considers safe for refugees, their chances of being allowed to stay aren't certain.
As Merkel outlined her government's desire to speed up asylum decisions so all applicants receive a verdict within a year, the teen burst into tears. After a brief hesitation, Merkel walked over to comfort her.
"I know it's a difficult situation, but I still want to give her a pat," the chancellor said.
Merkel's office said the chancellor didn't speak to the girl, identified only as Reem, after the event.
But Merkel's blunt words about swiftly deporting those whose asylum applications are denied drew harsh criticism.
(China Daily 07/18/2015 page9)