Efforts continue to free Goal aid staff

 

MINISTER FOR Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has pledged to do everything possible to secure the release of two Goal aid workers missing for almost seven weeks.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio yesterday, Mr Martin said there was concern about the length of time the women had been held.

Sharon Commins (32), from Clontarf, Dublin, and her Ugandan colleague Hilda Kawuki (42) were taken by a gang of armed men from a Goal compound in north Darfur on July 3rd.

“Sharon and Hilda were there purely for humanitarian purposes. We know from local contacts that they were held in the highest esteem in Darfur,” Mr Martin said.

“We will spare no effort to work towards the release of both Sharon and Hilda.”

He said an inter-departmental operation involving gardaí, the Defence Forces and the Department of Foreign Affairs was in place. Two teams sent out to Sudan, in Khartoum and El Fasher, were reporting to him on a daily basis, and close contact was being maintained with the Commins family.

The women have spoken to officials from the Government teams on a number of occasions since they were taken captive and were previously said to be in good health.

Mr Martin said the situation was complex, and he did not want to say anything that would make it more difficult or raise hopes until there was something definite to report.

Ms Commins has worked with Goal for about four years and has spent 18 months in Darfur.