A new 'Sesame Street' show in Arabic aims to help refugee children

"Sesame Street" and the International Rescue Committee have collaborated in efforts to help Syrian refugee children. A new program called "Ahlan Simsim" is set to air in February 2020.

(CNN)Sesame Workshop and the International Rescue Committee have joined forces to help Syrian refugee children through educational learning programs, including the launch of a new "Sesame Street" show in Arabic.

More than 12 million people have been displaced as a result of the ongoing conflict in Syria, and almost half of them are children, according to the IRC.
When conflicts such as the Syrian war send families fleeing from their homes knowing they may not return for decades, children are left in the middle of a tragedy they can't even comprehend.

No school, no learning, no freedom

    The childhoods of refugee children are smeared with memories of violence and disorder. Many have witnessed the deaths of their parents, siblings, and friends.
    When families are fleeing, trying to find a sense of safety even if it means risking their lives to do so, these children are robbed of more than just the experiences of playgrounds and movie theaters. They are robbed of their education.
    "Less than 2% of all humanitarian aid funding goes on education, even though half of the world's refugees are kids," IRC president and CEO David Miliband said in a recent interview on "60 Minutes."
    Today, the average time a refugee is displaced is 20 years, according to Miliband.

    "Ahlan Simsim": A new beginning

    In 2016, the IRC and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind "Sesame Street," announced that they would be partnering up to launch a new program called "Ahlan Simsim," or "Welcome Sesame" in Arabic.
    The two organizations won a $100 million MacArthur Foundation award in 2017 for the plan, which involved two major initiatives: a "Sesame Street" show with Arabic-speaking characters and the development of services that reach refugee children directly.
    Sesame Workshop began creating the locally produced Arabic-version of "Sesame Street" earlier this year. The first season of "Ahlan Simsim," aimed at children ages 3-8, will air locally across the Middle East beginning in February 2020 and will also be available digitally, according to Sesame Workshop.
    "Sesame Street" characters like Elmo and Grover will also make appearances in the new show.
    The show stars two main characters: Jad, a young boy Muppet who is new to the neighborhood, and Basma, a Muppet girl who happily befriends him. Ma'zooza, a baby goat, follows the two around wherever they go.
    "My toy is not with me. I left it behi