For decades, the Iraq-Iran border has served as a smuggling route, mainly to transport goods to Iran. Every night, hundreds of Koolbars; young Kurds living in west part of Iran cross the border into Iraq. For a few dollars a day, they risk their lives to majorly smuggle cigarettes. Koolbar is a term used by locals in the Kurdish region of Iran to refer to porters and people who illegally carry goods across the border to earn their living.
Due to the lack of job opportunities in this region, most of the people are busy in smuggling goods across the Iraq borders. This area is full of land mines left from Iran-Iraq war and besides life-threatening risks; Border Guard Commands strongly fight with them. They usually earn about 20 dollars in each of their commutes (a 6-hour walking route through the mountain). There is a famous sentence among them, “Border or Center” which means if they don’t smuggle, they have to go the capital city and doing low-ranking jobs far away from their hometown. As a result of such dangerous and excruciating practice, over 154 smugglers (were killed or injured in various incidents in 2016.