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Detainees treated humanely, officials say

Detainee arrives
Detainees are shackled and escorted by two guards any time they leave their cells  

(CNN) -- Conditions may be uncomfortable for Afghan war prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but U.S. officials insist they are humane.

The detainees, who have been moved from Afghanistan to "Camp X-Ray" at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, are being housed in individual 8-by-8-foot outdoor cells with concrete floors and wooden roofs surrounded by chain-link fencing.

Inside the cells, where they will be kept until a permanent detention center can be built, prisoners each have a foam-rubber mat to lie on and two towels, one for bathing, another for a prayer mat.

They receive three meals each day, including one that meets Muslim religious requirements, according to military officials.

A firestorm of international criticism has forced U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to defend the treatment of the detainees. CNN's Barbara Starr reports (January 22)

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Officials said breakfast and dinner would be hot meals, with water as a beverage. The detainees also get packages containing cereal, raisins, peanuts and granola bars with their rations, officials said.

Detainees get daily showers and are issued a bar of soap, a bottle of shampoo, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and flip-flop sandals, officials said.

Upon arrival, each detainee gets a basic physical examination by a doctor that includes a chest X-ray and a blood sample, according to the Defense Department. Treatment is available if necessary.

"Their basic needs are regarded," U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said. "They have the right food, they have the right shelter, the right capacity to avoid injury."

Prisoners also get the opportunity to exercise, although they have to be shackled.

Although it is winter in the Caribbean, it can still get hot.

Average temperatures in Guantanamo Bay range from the upper 60s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit in winter and from the mid-70s to lower 90s in the summer. Average rainfall runs from around 1.5 inches in January and February to 3.6 inches in June.

To address religious concerns, an Islamic call to prayer is broadcast over the camp's public address system, and U.S. troops have placed signs near the cells pointing east so Muslim prisoners can pray in the direction of Mecca.

The International Committee of the Red Cross was arranging to provide additional copies of the Quran.

A Muslim cleric, who is an officer in the U.S. Navy, is being taken to the camp to ensure the prisoners' religious views are respected, officials said.

Several British diplomats and officials who met with their nationals said they heard no complaints about treatment.




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