Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
UK Kosovo refugees 'glad to be safe'
Kosovan children take their first look at the UK from their aircraft window
The first Kosovo Albanian refugees to arrive in the UK since Nato's bombing campaign began are reportedly coping very well with their ordeal and have expressed gratitude to their hosts.
They underwent medical checks at a makeshift medical centre at the airport before moving on to the hostels. They will stay there until more permanent acccommodation can be found.
Rachel Rees, from the Refugee Council, said the nursing homes were a welcome contrast to the horrors they have endured back home.
"The conditions in the camps are appalling. There's a lot of mud and rain and many of the refugees arrived with just the clothes they were wearing, so they were glad of the opportunity to get clean.
"They had a hot meal provided by the people of Leeds and slept in warm, comfortable beds. They have left behind a huge tragedy and many of their loved ones.
"They were very quiet - but they were safe," she said.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees spokeswoman in the UK, Hope Hanlan, told the BBC the authorities have tried to keep families together and that all the refugees had volunteered to come to the UK.
Earlier, one of the refugees expressed his gratitude to the people of Britain.
Avni Gosalci, a 27-year-old, fled from Kosovo with his wife Anita, 25, and their two-month-old baby daughter Dielleza.
"We are very grateful for everything this country has done. Even in the camps, the British were very sensitive and helpful," said Mr Gosalci.
He said conditions in the refugee camps were catastrophic, with 25 people sharing a single tent.
They will be able to claim full welfare benefits or find work. Efforts will be made to help them trace relatives and place the children in local schools.
This is expected to be just the first wave of people to arrive from the crowded Macedonian camps.
The UNHCR said it would be submitting a request to the UK Government to receive a further 400 people in the next few days.