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Red Cross arrives in Cuba to visit detainees

U.S. forces stand guard at their base in Guantanamo Bay.  

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross have arrived at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to see the 110 Afghan war detainees held there and the conditions of their imprisonment.

Officials said the Red Cross staffers, who arrived Thursday, will be able to speak with each captive, and military officials will explain the security procedures in place at the camp.

With the arrival of 30 new detainees on Thursday, U.S. forces are now holding 110 captives on the Caribbean island.

The Red Cross delegation is made up of four members of the ICRC, including a doctor and two linguists fluent in Arabic, Urdu and English, the languages spoken by the detainees. The ICRC says there are British citizens included in the list of detainees.

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A spokesman for the ICRC, Darcy Christen, told CNN the delegation could stay as long as a week because of the number of detainees.

Officials with the U.S. Joint Task Force at Guantanamo tell CNN two members of the group -- a doctor and a translator -- will stay indefinitely at the site, while the other two delegates will depart on Friday.

The ICRC is scheduled to first speak to U.S. officials in charge of the detainees, asking questions to understand the U.S. detention process. From there the delegation will ask detainees about their detention, how they were captured and how they were treated during transport.

The ICRC will submit a report with its findings to the detaining authorities, in this case the U.S. Southern Command, as well as to the Pentagon.

The report will not be made public, but Christen said a delegation would return to the camp to check on any improvements to the facility they may have requested. The ICRC's mission traditionally includes rendering aid and verifying humane conditions for detainees during war or internal conflicts.

Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told reporters Thursday that the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, led a group of military attorneys to Guantanamo this week to check on the suitability of the facility for military tribunals.


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