The Kuwaiti government Saturday began flying home hundreds of thousands of its citizens scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East who fled their homeland when it was invaded by Iraqi troop last August.

Kuwaiti officials in Cairo said a fleet of Kuwaiti Airways jets began free ferrying of the Kuwaitis from European and Middle East capitals to the emirate, which was liberated last February after seven months of Iraqi occupation."The campaign means the end of restrictions imposed by the Kuwaiti government on returning its citizens to their country," a Kuwaiti Airways official in Cairo said.

The return of the exiled community has been purposely held up by the government because of the shortages of water, electricity and other basic services.

The state-owned, Kuwaiti Airways is planning 12 weekly flights to carry some 25,000 Kuwaitis living in Cairo.

Kuwaiti officials say that as many as 400,000 Kuwaitis fled their country after the invasion, about half of the emirate's population of 1. 8 million, mostly expatriates.

Kuwaiti officials said in a few days the exiled Kuwaitis will receive their last subsidy from the government for living abroad. Exiled Kuwaitis were receiving stipends depending on the number of children in each family.