Tent city at Guantanamo set as precaution for Haitian refugees

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — U.S. forces have set up 100 tents here as a rudimentary humanitarian relief site that could house up to 1,000 Haitians if earthquake victims start fleeing their nation, a senior military official here said Wednesday.

U.S. Coast Guard officials have said they detected no evidence of Haitians trying to flee their country by sea. They credited both an ongoing, massive international relief effort to Haitians on their own soil and the presence of a ring of ships and aircraft off the stricken nation's shore, some with 2,200 Marines on board.

But U.S. troops set up the first stage of a pop-up tent city as a part precaution and part preparedness exercise, said Navy Rear Adm. Thomas Copeman, commander of the detention center here.

The prison camps that today house fewer than 200 war-on-terror captives is far away from the proposed humanitarian tent city. They are on opposite sides of Guantanamo Bay, separated by a 30-minute ferry ride.

Copeman described the tent city as a prudent measure but said he was privy to no hard evidence that a rafter crisis or large-scale plans to move Haitians here was on the horizon.

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