SEOUL, April 4 (Xinhua) -- South Korea on Monday approved additional humanitarian aid to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), marking the latest civilian aid after it lifted a virtual ban on civilian aid last week.
Two local civic groups were given the green light to send food items worth 176 million won (161,734 U.S. dollars) to children at nurseries and orphanages in northeastern parts of the DPRK, according to the unification ministry in Seoul.
"The government will comprehensively consider factors such as the need for assistance, transparency in distribution and the urgency of each case in deciding whether to authorize civilian assistance," unification ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters in a briefing.
The latest aid came after the government allowed private humanitarian assistance to the DPRK last week for the first time since last November, when the two Koreas exchanged fire near their disputed western maritime border.
The clash, which killed four South Koreans, infuriated the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration in Seoul and led it to suspend nearly all exchanges with Pyongyang.
The latest approval for humanitarian assistance also came after the World Food Program said the DPRK is in need of some 434,000 tons of food assistance to tackle its critical food shortage affecting a quarter of its 24 million people. The agency, however, did not officially ask for Seoul's food aid.