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German town to allow male refugees pool access after 'intensive discussions'

A small German town near Cologne and Bonn has announced they will allow male refugees access to the pool. Last week, the town banned the men from entering after it received sexual harassment complaints.

The German town of Bornheim, located roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Cologne, will reopen its doors to male refugees on Wednesday after blocking access last week following a string of sexual harassment complaints, the town announced in a statement on Monday.

"The cancellation is not the result of pressure from the media's response, but rather follows intensive discussions with refugees on how they should treat women with respect, regardless of whether they have a migration background or not," the statement said.

Bornheim said last week it wanted social workers to teach asylum seekers at shelters in the area about gender equality and the need to respect women, adding that the city was not prepared to compromise on German cultural norms.

"Once our social workers tell us that they have received the message, we'll terminate the measure," said Markus Schnapka, head of Bornheim's social welfare office.

The move comes amid heightened tensions in Germany following a wave of sexual assaults reportedly perpetrated by North African migrants during New Year's Eve celebrations in Cologne.

In 2015, Germany witnessed more than one million asylum seekers and migrants - many fleeing war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa - enter the country after Chancellor Angela Merkel announced an open door policy.

Watch video 02:45

Reprisal attacks on migrants in Cologne | DW

ls/kms (Reuters, dpa)

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