Heja Rahiminia

Kolbars - 2019

A kolbar or cross-border labor is a worker who is employed to carry goods on his/her back across the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey legally or illegally. Most kolbars live in Iranian Kurdistan, where the Kurdish provinces are among the poorest in the country. Kolbars also live in Turkish Kurdistan and to a lesser extent Iraqi Kurdistan. Since kolbar work is mostly considered illegal, kolbar workers have no insurance, retirement plans and unions. Among the kolbars are highly educated young people, who have no job because of high unemployment in Kurdish provinces. According to Iranian statistics, only in the Kurdistan Province more than twenty thousand people depend on being a kolbar for sustenance. The phenomenon of kolbari is tied to the de-development in Rojhelat. In both Iran and Turkey many young male and female kolbars have been shot dead by government forces. In many cases crossing the border is against the law, and the kolbars are shot.