South Korea allowed a civilian group Wednesday to provide humanitarian aid to North Korea, despite renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
A local private group named Seomgim, or the Devotion, was permitted to ship basic medical supplies worth 17 million won ($16,248) to maternity clinics in the North Hamgyong Province, according to Seoul's unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.
The latest approval brought the total amount of assistance by the South's private entities to its impoverished neighbor to 1.95 billion won so far this year.
The Seoul government maintains a stance to continue extending aid for the vulnerable people in the North on humanitarian grounds regardless of its anti-Pyongyang sanctions that effectively halted all inter-Korean exchange and cooperation projects since 2010 except for the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
Last year, assistance worth 5.1 billion won was shipped to the North by private groups here, and the Seoul government, for its part, sent aid worth 13.5 billion won last year through international organizations.
The latest approval follows a series of provocative actions by the communist country, such as missile launches, a live-firing drill and threats to conduct a nuclear test.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund has extended $250,000 to North Korea to help pregnant women there, Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported.
The fund was mostly funneled into some 30 clinics located in the regions affected by floods last year to equip them with necessary emergency medicine for would-be mothers and birth supplies, the report said, citing the agency's official Arie Hoekman. (Yonhap)