Efforts to free two workers for aid agency Goal kidnapped in Darfur almost a month ago are ‘ongoing’, officials said today.

A gang of armed men kidnapped Sharon Commins, from Dublin, and Ugandan Hilda Kawuki from Goal offices in the North Darfur city of Kutum on 3 July.

‘Efforts are ongoing,’ a senior official said on condition of anonymity.

Officials from Goal in Sudan declined to comment.

Goal President and founder, John O'Shea, released a statement on Friday saying ‘the Irish Government, the Sudanese Government and Goal are working around the clock in Sudan’ to secure the release of the hostages.

'We will continue to be unsparing in our efforts,' Mr O’Shea added.

The 3 July kidnapping was the third such act directed at foreign aid workers since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March for Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

The mood soured towards foreign aid groups after the ruling, with Sudan expelling 13 aid agencies.

However, officials have insisted the kidnappers are bandits wanting money.

The Darfur conflict erupted in February 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government and its militia allies.