It was the moment Angela Merkel was confronted by the harsh reality of her decisions.
The German Chancellor became emotional after she was blindsided by a Palestinian teenager who burst into tears after explaining that she was facing deportation. But despite trying to comfort the girl, the politician's response has largely been condemned.
The girl, named locally as Reem, told Merkel during a televised discussion that was meant to be about the "Good Life in Germany" that her family had been waiting for four years to get residency and may have to leave.
Angela Merkel comforts the girl who broke down after telling the German Chancellor her family were being deported
Reem's family, who arrived in Rostock from a Lebanese refugee camp, could reportedly be deported because her father can't continue his welding work on a temporary permit.
According to The Local Reem told the leader: “It's really difficult to see that others are really able to enjoy their lives and you yourself can't enjoy it with them."
She explained to the chancellor that she had been studying at the Paul-Friedrich-Scheel school and had learned fluent German and English, and a little Swedish. She said her hopes of studying in Germany would be crushed if she were forced to leave.
Merkel tried to comfort the girl, but at first struggled for the right words:“I understand, and yet I have to... politics is sometimes hard."
She went on: "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.”
Merkel said she hoped the decision-making process evaluating which refugees could stay would be sped up, but stopped short when she noticed Reem was crying. She then approached the teenager, lent over and stroked her shoulder, saying: “You were great ... I know it’s difficult for you and you presented extremely well the situation that many others find themselves in.”
Merkel's response has been criticised online with Twitter users saying she simply couldn't "pat away" the problem.
The Mail Online quotes Jan Schnorrenberg, manager of the opposition Green party's youth wing, saying: 'Explaining to a young girl on live camera that her fate doesn't matter to you - just shameful.'
The number of refugees arriving in Germany is increasing every month. So far this year the country has received 450,000 applications, The Guardian reported, more than twice the total for the whole of 2014.
The incident was trending on Twitter as #MerkelStreichelt (Merkel strokes) on Thursday and also coincided with the release of new figures showing that German towns and cities are straining to find appropriate accommodation for the large numbers of refugees entering the country.