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Residency granted to 'crying' refugee girl

December 24, 2015

Palestinian Reem Sahwil and her family have been granted a three-year residence permit, a German paper has said. The girl made headlines after crying during a meeting with Chancellor Merkel during a televised forum.

Bundeskanzlerin Merkel trifft Flüchtlingsmädchen NEU
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/NDR

Officials have granted Palestinian refugee Reem Sahwil and her family residency in Germany through October 2017, the German newspaper 'Bild' reported on Thursday.

The report, which cites Rostock's immigration office, says the teenage girl as well as her father, mother and brother are allowed to stay due to their successful integration into German society. The girl's father now works as an aid to refugees.

The report said that the family may pick up the permit in the coming days.

Lorenz Caffier, the chairman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, told "Bild" that he was "satisfied that the residency status of Reem is clarified. The period of uncertainty is over and she can stay here."

Atef und Reem Sahouil
Reem Sahwil, pictured with her father, AtefImage: privat

'I want to study'

Reem, who is reported to be fluent in five languages and an excellent student, told German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a televised discussion in perfect German that her family, who arrived in the northern German city of Rostock from a Lebanese refugee camp four years ago, faced possible deportation. She had said she wanted to study in Germany, but that her future was uncertain.

"I want to study, that's my desire," she said.

Merkel responded and said that Germany could not admit everyone, which moved the girl to tears. Merkel then tried to comfort the teen by stroking her head and shoulder, which her critics called cold and awkward.

After the media storm caused by the event, the girl and her family received a limited residency permit from Rostock until March 2016.

smm/gsw (AFP, dpa)