African migrant gang accused of robbing Ukrainian refugees in Spain

Spanish police have arrested a man and identified others believed to be part of a North African gang that has been hunting down Ukrainian refugees traveling on Spanish highways after escaping Russia’s invasion of their country.

The Spanish Civil Guard arrested a 47-year-old man – identified only by his initials RMJ – and identified another person as behind at least eight thefts and three incidents of damage to vehicles located at rest stops on Spanish motorways. Both men are said to be part of a larger North African criminal gang.

The North African gang are said to have targeted elderly travelers and foreigners at rest areas along the A-1, A-62 and AP7 highways, and among their alleged victims was a family of Ukrainian refugees fleeing the conflict in their country, the newspaper said LaRazon reports.

The gang are said to have stolen the money and valuable items that the Ukrainian refugees were able to take to Spain after fleeing their country on March 3 at a rest stop along the AP-7 motorway in Castellón after a group of five offered to do so had help them with a supposed flat tire.

While one member of the group distracted the fugitives, the other member of the gang stole €7,000 in cash, jewelry, plane tickets, the key to her apartment in Ukraine and other belongings.

According to the newspaper, the gang deliberately targeted foreigners who may not be familiar with the Spanish language and are less likely to press charges or attend criminal hearings.

In Switzerland, too, Ukrainian refugee women in an asylum center in Chevrilles have complained about the bad treatment by other migrants.

“We don’t feel safe here. It is impossible to leave your belongings in the room, thefts are commonplace. We have been here for a month, but we only got a translator yesterday. There is no school solution for children who are left to their parents who are traumatized themselves,” a Ukrainian refugee told Schweizer Zeitung view.

“We have sometimes been victims of racist violence by other refugees, in front of security officials who have remained like marble,” the refugee added.

The complaints echo similar concerns from Ukrainian refugee women in Sweden, who allege men attempted to break into their shelter, including while a woman was sleeping with her two young children.

“[W]We’re still scared,” a Ukrainian refugee told Swedish media, adding: “In Ukraine – I live in Ukraine – nobody knocks on my door, ever. You say [to] me that Swedish is too safe a country, but I didn’t see it.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by email to ctomlinson(at)

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