Asia Pacific|‘R’ is for Rohingya: Sesame Street Creates New Muppets for Refugees

Noor and Aziz are Rohingya Muppets who will feature in educational programming that will be shown in refugee camps.

A child in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Grover the Muppet in 2018.A child in a Rohingya refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh and Grover the Muppet in 2018.Credit…Ryan Donnell/Sesame Workshop

Hannah Beech

  • Dec. 19, 2020, 2:03 a.m. ET

BANGKOK — Six-year-old twins Noor and Aziz live in the largest refugee camp in the world. They are Rohingya Muslims who escaped ethnic cleansing in their native Myanmar for refuge in neighboring Bangladesh. They are also Muppets.

On Thursday, the Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit that runs the early education TV show “Sesame Street” and operates in more than 150 countries, unveiled Aziz and Noor as the latest Muppets in their cast of characters.

The twins will appear with Elmo and other famous Muppets in educational programming about math, science, health and other topics that will be shown in the camps.

They will speak Rohingya, the language of a group of people that the Myanmar authorities have refused to recognize as a legitimate ethnicity. Elements of Sesame Workshop’s curriculum will be dubbed into Rohingya.

“They are among the most marginalized children on earth,” said Sherrie Weston, the president of social impact for the Sesame Workshop, who traveled to the Rohingya refugee camps several times to help formulate the Muppet twins’ characters and story lines. “For most Rohingya children, this will be the very first time that characters in media have looked like them, have sounded like them, and really reflect their rich culture.”

More than half the residents of the Rohingya refugee settlements in Bangladesh are children. Many suffered trauma after security forces in Myanmar forced them out of their villages, murdering some of their fathers and raping their mothers.

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