NICOLA Sturgeon has announced a new drive to recruit hosts for Ukrainian refugees will be launched this month after it emerged some 2442 people fleeing the war torn country are living on cruise ships as winter approaches.

The First Minister unveiled the campaign in Holyrood today after official figures showed more than 7000 people from the eastern European country who have arrived in Scotland have struggled to find settled homes and are living in temporary "welcome accommodation".

She was asked by Labour's Sarah Boyack in Holyrood today what the Scottish Government was doing to ensure refugees were being provided with suitable places to live.

The First Minister said a number of measures were being taken to address the issue.

"Our priority is to ensure the immediate needs of those arriving are met, although we are clear we do not want anyone to spend more time than absolutely necessary in welcome accommodation," she said.

"We are also taking forward a number of actions focussed on providing sustainable longer term accommodation for those here and still arriving, that will include a new Scottish-led host recruitment campaign that will launch at the end of the month."

Ms Boyack said that the contract for MS Victoria is due to end in January 2023 and pressed her on how she would ensure the capacity provided by the ship (which currently accomodates more than 1200 people) is retained amid an acute housing crisis in Edinburgh.

"Will she urgently look to expand the criteria for the largely unspent £50 million housing fund for local authorities, to include purchasing property from the market and working with agents to retrofit buildings? Will the First Minister confirm continued funding for the city’s welcome hub?" asked the Labour MSP.

The First Minister replied: "Yes, we will continue to provide support. These are very real issues, and Sarah Boyack is right to raise them. They are issues that all countries that have stepped up to help Ukrainians are facing right now.

"I was speaking with the Taoiseach at the British-Irish Council a couple of weeks ago, and I know that the Republic of Ireland is dealing with those issues too, as is the Welsh Government and the United Kingdom Government in respect of England.

"It is right that we have welcomed as many Ukrainians as possible, and it is right that we now work through those challenges.

"I know that Neil Gray is keeping members and Parliament as a whole updated. The £50 million longer-term resettlement fund is important, and we will continue to look at the eligibility for that.

"It is helping us to bring void properties back into use. We are also investing heavily in our wider affordable housing programme and will continue to do so."

She added: "In relation to people who have been displaced from Ukraine, we will continue to work with the City of Edinburgh Council and local authorities across Scotland to ensure that that support can continue. I take the opportunity to put on record my thanks to local councils, which have done fantastic work on that.

"These are not easy challenges for any Government to navigate, but we have a moral obligation to do so and we will continue to work hard to ensure that we are doing right by those from Ukraine who need our support, help and welcome."

Figures published last week by the Scottish Government revealed that as at on November 9, around 7,198 refugees from Ukraine were in welcome accommodation with 4,756 people occupying hotel rooms and 2,442 people on-board the passenger liners. 

M/S Victoria in Leith began accommodating refugees in July while the M/S Ambassador cruise liner in Glasgow became operational in September. 

According to the latest official statistics up to 15 November, Scotland has received a total number of 41,510 visa applications, following which, 35,680 visas were issued for those with a Scottish sponsor, either the Scottish Government or an individual.

They also showed that a total number of 21,890 displaced people from Ukraine had arrived in the UK on a visa with a Scottish sponsor. 

Out of these, 18 per cent (3,938) were sponsored by named and known individual sponsors and 82 per cent (17,952) were sponsored by the Scottish Government. 

The figure equates to 400 displaced people per 100,000 population for those that had arrived on a visa with a Scottish sponsor. 

In comparison, 136 displaced people per 100,000 population arrived on a visa with a sponsor in England, 194 displaced people arrived on a visa with a sponsor in Wales and 37 displaced people arrived on a visa with a sponsor in Northern Ireland per 100,000 population.