Uruguay's government has received the first group of Syrian refugees to arrive in the South American country.

President Jose Mujica on Thursday welcomed 42 refugees seeking shelter from the civil war when they arrived at Montevideo airport.

The five families were taken to a new home on the city's outskirts. For the next 12 months, they will take Spanish lessons and classes on local customs.

Officials say the adults have already been guaranteed jobs.

Uruguay has agreed to receive a total of 120 Syrian refugees. The rest are to arrive by 2015.

Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries have also taken in Syrian refugees. But Uruguay is the first one in the region to assume all resettlement costs.