• Sesame Workshop has announced a new partnership to gear educational content towards young refugees. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
A new initiative to help the millions of displaced people around the world has been announced at the World Humanitarian Summit.
By
Bianca Soldani

24 May 2016 - 11:46 AM  UPDATED 25 May 2016 - 8:22 AM

According to UNHCR figures, 51 per cent of refugees worldwide are under 18. Many are affected by the trauma of their situation and have little or no access to educational services.

In response to this humanitarian disaster, Sesame Workshop is teaming up with the International Rescue Committee to develop and disseminate educational resources for children and their families living in crisis.

"Education is the first thing parents and children ask for in a crisis because it helps them to recover and heal from what they have been through," IRC Senior Director for Education Sarah Smith tells SBS.

"However accessing educational services is difficult because as refuges often times the countries that they have fled to don’t have a school system that can easily absorb and meet their needs. And if they are displaced within their own country, their school systems have  often been broken up."

The announcement was made at the debut World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul on Monday, with the partnership aiming initially to produce content for mobile devices, radio, TV and print.

"Smart investments in young children are essential to any humanitarian response."

Sesame Workshop is the non-profit organisation behind the Sesame Street empire, which has decades of experience in using the Muppets to engage children in educational material.

The IRC operates in over 40 countries to respond to humanitarian crises and will help direct the content to those most in need.

President and CEO of Sesame Workshop Jeffrey D. Dunn says, “We know that children who experience trauma or extreme stress during their earliest years have increased likelihood of long-term deficits, and may suffer tremendously in their overall brain and cognitive development."

“It is a well-proven fact that the earliest childhood experiences have a profound impact on an individual’s future success and well-being. Smart investments in young children are essential to any humanitarian response,” says IRC president David Miliband.

“The partnership between Sesame Street and the IRC will help develop rich and innovative resources to reach young children whose lives have been shattered by conflict and displacement.”

Sesame Workshop and the IRC are currently seeking funding partnerships that will determine the scale of their work.

The UN estimates that there are close to 60 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, 20 million of whom are classified as refugees - the highest levels of displacement on record.

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