10/01/2012 06:34 EDT | Updated 12/01/2012 05:12 EST

Red Crescent to handle $2M in Canadian aid to Syrians

Money the government pledged to aid civilians in Syria almost two months ago now has someone to spend it, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and International Co-operation Minister Julian Fantino announced over the weekend.

The government announced on Aug. 11 that it would give $2 million in medical aid to a new group called Canadian Relief for Syria. But the money was yanked after controversy over the group's links to another charity.

In a news release last weekend, Baird and Fantino said that Canada is giving the $2 million in humanitarian medical aid to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

It will take several weeks to get the money to the aid group, but the organization can start earmarking the money for programming now that they know it will be coming.

Canadian Relief for Syria was founded near the end of 2011 by engineers, doctors and people with management backgrounds and is affiliated with a Paris-based charity that delivers medical aid.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in August it had "appropriate connections" on the ground.

Issues 'caused some concern'

But within days, Baird asked his department to review alternatives after "issues which caused some concern" emerged.

Canadian Relief for Syria was in the process of applying for charitable status with the Canada Revenue Agency last August. In the meantime, if someone clicks on "donate" on its website, they are redirected to the website of Human Concern International.

HCI has faced controversy in the past over its links to Ahmed Said Khadr, the father of former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr. Ahmed Khadr helped finance al-Qaeda when he was HCI's representative in Pakistan and was later killed in a gun battle. HCI has never been charged with any terrorist activities, and the organization says it now has better checks on its operations.

Baird attended a side meeting of the Friends of Syria group Monday at the UN. To date, the Canadian International Development Agency has committed $12 million in support for Syrian civilians. The first $10 million went to urgent humanitarian assistance like shelter, food and water.