The Chios Eastern Shore Response Team, Greece (CESRT) and Offene Arme e.V., Germany (Open Arms) are thrilled to announce the formal registration and integration of CESRT under the umbrella of Offene Arme e.V.

 

After almost three years of responding to the immediate needs of those landing on Chios’ Eastern Shores, of welcoming them with food, water, dry blankets and clothes and the warmth of CESRT welcome, as a Response Team, CESRT is embracing and being embraced by this change…

Offene Arme eV is the official host of CESRT priority activities: distribution of essential goods at landings and in response to identified needs. CESRT will be renamed ‘Offene Arme’ (Open Arms) with the formal status of a registered humanitarian association with the Greek Government.

The refugee crisis is not over. People fleeing war and persecution continue to choose the dangerous sea crossing from Cesme, Turkey to Chios Island, Greece. CESRT with Offene Arme is acutely aware of our role in delivering humanitarian aid and its limitations. As a team, we do not pretend nor can we aspire to   meeting all the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers in an ever-changing and confusing regulatory environment. We must focus our efforts, adjust our engagement in an increasingly fraught and changing environment and do what we can to the best of our abilities within a realistic framework. 
The benefits of this new arrangement are many. The formal recognition of the priority activities previously undertaken by CESRT as a team of independent volunteers is key to the continuation and the enhanced effectiveness of the assistance provided to asylum seekers. The difficulties and often harsh reality faced by asylum seekers continues to require the assistance, cooperation and advocacy of volunteer teams acting independently.

Building on the sound cooperation established by CESRT with local authorities, CESRT, under the legal umbrella of Offene Arme eV will continue to liaise, cooperate and work in partnership with all agencies providing services to asylum seekers on Chios. Formal recognition and registration as a humanitarian organisation provides opportunities to increase not only the effectiveness and efficiency of our distribution of the much-needed goods and services, but also to expand the reach of our distributions to a greater number of asylum seekers in Vial Camp

The work, spirit and ethos of CESRT, past and present, will continue as before strengthened by its integration with Offene Arme eV. Pothiti Kitromilidi (Toula), as founder of CESRT, remains the key ‘mover-and-shaker’, the long-term local, and now, legal representative of Offene Arme eV. Offene Arme eV, registered in Germany, is a long-term donor and supporter of CESRT with in-depth knowledge and appreciation of CESRT’s achievements. Alexander Hirsch,also known to many of you as a regular, ‘recidivist’ volunteer, is the Founder and Chairman of Offene Arme eV in Germany.

CESRT has always prided itself on honoring the wishes of donors and, under the umbrella of Offene Arme e.V., we continue to guarantee that all funds will continue to be used for the direct benefit of refugees. 
Offene Arme eV will continue to value the independence, solidarity and flexibility in our response to this humanitarian crisis. Our new warehouse will continue to be central to the preparation and provision of food, water, clothes and other essentials to new arrivals and to all refugees detained on Chios. 
The needs of vulnerable and often traumatized people, who find themselves in very difficult circumstances, will remain our priority. Our volunteers will continue to show empathy and respect for the concerns of asylum seekers. 
It is the generosity of the broad CESRT community of donors, volunteers and supporters that has permitted our work to proceed this far and upon which the continuation of our efforts depends. We hope and trust that this community will embrace this change and will continue its activities and commitments.

As CESRT, our Arms were always Open to welcome those seeking international protection on the eastern shores of Chios Island, Greece. Please remember that nobody leaves home voluntarily for an uncertainty future.