Monday, April 5, 1999 Published at 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
UK awaits refugees' arrival
The refugees desperately need housing, food and medicine
The UK is preparing for an influx of thousands of refugees who will be flown to emergency housing in an effort to stem the humanitarian crisis in eastern Europe.
It is thought the refugees bound temporarily for Britain will be staying in council houses and disused army barracks.
"We've already taken almost 10,000 refugees from Kosovo, the second-highest number of any of our EU partners, and we stand ready to take some thousands more," he said.
He pointed to the one million refugees from the former Yugoslavia already in the EU who would probably never go home.
"The immediate requirement is to provide food and shelter."
The Hercules was carrying medical supplies and a six-strong reconnaissance team, which will assess what help is needed in the long term.
Speaking on Sunday night after talks with government officials in Skopje, Macedonia, she said agreement had been reached for the immediate transfer of 10,000 stranded Kosovo Albanians to a new refugee centre in northern Macedonia.
Nato announced that Germany would take 40,000 refugees, along with Greece (5,000), Norway (6,000), Turkey (20,000), Canada (5,000) and the US (20,000).
A spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said the initiatives were welcomed, and that the massive relief operation could be "starting to turn a corner".
Bosnian conflict refugees
And British Refugee Council spokeswoman Rachel Reece said: "We would urge the government to be as generous as possible.
The last time Britain took in large number of refugees was during the Bosnian conflict.
Five thousand people were housed in reception centres in areas such as the Midlands, Derby and West Yorkshire for three months.
They were then moved to more permanent accommodation and were given permission by the government to stay permanently in 1997.