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Medics Arrive At Guantanamo As Hunger Strikers Increase

About 40 medical personnel have arrived at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay amid an increase in the number of hunger strikers at the facility.

Since last Saturday, 100 of the 166 prisoners at the camp have been refusing to eat; 21 of them are being fed through nasal tubes. Five of the hunger strikers are in the camp's hospital, according to a statement from Army Lt. Col. Samuel House. (As we've reported, 84 prisoners were on hunger strike on April 22.)

The Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg reports:

"House issued the statement just before noon Monday, saying 'currently only a handful of detainees are being tube-fed.' He sought to distinguish between those designated for forced-feedings and those actually strapped to a feeding chair to have a tube snaked up the nose and into the stomach to pump in a can of Ensure or a similar nutritional supplement up to twice daily.

"Captives are moved in shackles from their cell to a separate forced-feeding site, House said in a statement where 'most of the detainees who are approved for tube feeding will eat or drink without the peer pressure from inside the cell block.' "

The Herald also reported that the medical reinforcements come amid a visit to the facility by members of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that the American Medical Association is asking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel whether doctors at Guantanamo are being asked to violate their ethics by force-feeding prisoners. The news agency, which obtained a copy of the letter, reports: "It urged the defense secretary 'to address any situation in which a physician may be asked to violate the ethical standards of his or her profession.' "

The hunger strikes began in February, as prisoners protested conditions at the camp and their indefinite detention.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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