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.

Chios Eastern Shore Response Team (CESRT)

Offene Arme e.V.

In 2019, after almost five years of responding to the immediate needs of those landing on Chios’ eastern shores: welcoming them with food, water, dry blankets and clothes, and the warmth of a CESRT welcome, CESRT embraced and was embraced by this change…

Offene Arme e.V. is the official host of CESRT’s activities: distribution of essential goods at landings and in response to identified needs. CESRT was 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 take the dangerous sea crossing from Cesme, Turkey to Chios Island, Greece.

We at Offene Arme e.V. are acutely aware of our role in delivering humanitarian aid, but also our organisation’s limitations. As a team, we do not pretend nor can we aspire to meet all the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers in an ever-changing and often confusing regulatory environment. We focus our efforts, adjust our engagement and do what we can to the best of our abilities within a realistic framework.

The benefits of becoming Offene Arme e.V. under 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 and refugees.

Building on the sound cooperation between CESRT and the local authorities, CESRT, Offene Arme e.V. continues to work in partnership with all agencies providing services to asylum seekers on Chios.

Formal recognition and registration as a humanitarian organisation increases not only the effectiveness and efficiency of our distributions of the much-needed goods and services, but also expands our reach to support a greater number of asylum seekers and refugees on Chios.

The work, spirit and ethos of CESRT, past and present, continues strengthened by its integration with Offene Arme e.V.

Pothiti Kitromilidi (Toula), founder of CESRT, remains the key ‘mover-and-shaker’, the long-term local, and now, legal representative of Offene Arme e.V. Offene Arme e.V., 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 regularly returning volunteer, is the Founder and Chairman of Offene Arme e.V. in Germany.

CESRT takes pride in honouring the wishes of donors and, under the umbrella of Offene Arme e.V., we guarantee that all funds continue to be used for the direct benefit of refugees.

Offene Arme e.V. continues to value independence, solidarity and flexibility in our response to this humanitarian crisis. Our warehouse is 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, remain our priority.

Our volunteers continue to show empathy and respect for the concerns of asylum seekers.

It is the generosity of our broad community of donors, volunteers and supporters that has permitted our work to proceed this far and upon which the continuation of our efforts depends.

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 uncertain future.