Nairobi-based freelance journalist Ariel Zirulnick discusses her project with photojournalist Will Swanson, "Kenya Abandons the North East to Al Shabab." Zirulnick and Swanson reported from the predominantly Somali northeast region of Kenya that has long existed on the country’s margins, a result of ethnic and religious differences and a war to secede fought decades ago.
After a slew of Al Shabab attacks in the last year that targeted Kenyans assigned to jobs there, marginalization has become abandonment. Teachers, nurses, doctors, and civil servants deserted their posts and refused to come back, leaving the region to educate its youth and care for its ill with a population poorly equipped to do so.
In April, the northeast lost its only four-year university after Al Shabab attacked the school and killed 148 people, mostly students—once again from elsewhere in the country.