Germany: Migrants get Carnival lessons

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) — Social workers in Cologne organized special training for migrants Tuesday to prepare them for the city's traditional, and boisterous, Carnival celebrations.

The effort comes in the wake of a string of robberies and sexual assaults on New Year's Eve in the city that police say were committed largely by foreigners. German authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of those events during the five-day street party starting Thursday.

Some 150 migrants, many of them wearing costumes, took the crash course organized by Caritas, a welfare association. It included performances by a local samba band and tips on how to behave during what's known as the "fifth season," when millions across the western Rhineland region take to the streets and pubs for five days of partying.

Peter Schmitz, a Caritas employee who helped organize the lecture, stressed that the idea for it came before the attacks in Cologne and wasn't aimed just at refugees.

"We already held this on Nov. 11, so it actually has nothing to do with what has happened on New Year's Eve," he said. "There are also migrants who've been here for a longer time and nobody ever explained Carnival to them."

Schmitz said he hoped the events of New Year's Eve were "a unique criminal event" that wouldn't happen again. About 1,000 women have filed criminal complaints over what happened in Cologne, more than half alleging sexual assaults including three rapes.

Sharon Mbabazi, a 24-year-old originally from Uganda, said she was concerned about what had occurred in the city, but said she believes police are doing their job.

"I am not really worried," she said.

Cologne's police chief Juergen Matheis, brought in after his predecessor was sacked following criticism over the New Year's attacks, said Monday more than 2,000 officers will be on hand, twice the number last year.

The Carnival training included advice on how to enjoy Cologne hospitality without overstepping the mark.

"Especially gentlemen, if you do it right and if you do it good, charming, nice and not pushing, you might have success with women," explained one slide. "This is no guarantee. No enforceable right and no promise for a marriage."


Frank Jordans contributed to this story from Berlin.