Iraq crisis: Obama and leaders told ‘people are dying, you must come back from holiday' by French Foreign Minister

Mr Obama faces accusations of being an 'absentee President'

The French Foreign Minister has slammed Western leaders such as Barack Obama for continuing their holidays in the midst of the crisis in Iraq, saying that vacations should end immediately because “people are dying.”

“I know it is the holiday period in our Western countries,” Laurent Fabius told France Info Radio on Tuesday after returning from visiting refugees in Irbil, “but when people are dying, you must come back from vacation.”

Mr Fabius rounded on Mr Obama as he enjoyed his annual vacation to Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the Massachusetts coast, while fighters from the Islamic State (Isis) continued to advance on swathes of northern Iraq.

The United Nations has declared its highest level of emergency in Iraq, where an estimated 1.2 million people have been internally displaced by IS militants.

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday returned from his holiday a day early to chair a meeting of the government's Cobra emergency committee on the situation in Iraq.

Mr Obama has already been accused of being an 'absentee President' while conflicts rage in Gaza and Iraq. Earlier this week, the Republican senator for Texas Ted Cruz argued he should “spend less time on the golf course and more time doing the job to which he was elected".

Fox broadcaster Sean Hannity also attacked Mr Obama in a televised address, telling the President it was time for him to skip his “lavish million dollar Martha’s Vineyard vacation”.

"You need to be in the Situation Room,” he said. “You may be surprised to learn what has actually happened in the six years since you have become the leader of the free world.”

The former vice president Dick Cheney and his wife Liz criticised him for golfing while “terrorists take control of more territory and resources than ever before in history”.

Video: Iraqi refugees find shelter

Democrat and former governor of Ohio Ted Strickland was one of the few to step in and defend the President, saying. “If the president walked on water, he would be criticised for not being able to swim."

The White House responded to criticism by saying the President would return to the White House if there was any need for him to, adding: “it's not a long flight back.”

Mr Obama is due to make a brief return to Washington this weekend, before resuming his holiday.

Earlier today, the US said it is ‘far less likely” to undertake a humanitarian mission to rescue thousands of refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar.

The US defence secretary Chuck Hagel said thousands of refugees have been successfully evacuated and those remaining appeared to be in a relatively good condition after receiving aid drops.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen