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.

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