Bent under the weight of their loads, Kurdish porters working in the smuggling trade can be seen in Iran's mountainous border regions with Iraq and Turkey. Known in Iran as kolbars, the porters are usually residents of local villages - as young as 13 and others in their 60s - who turn to smuggling cigarettes, clothing, alcohol, gasoline and electronic appliances to sustain their families. But working in the smuggling trade is a risky business that claims the lives of an estimated 300 kolbars annually. Many are killed by security forces, while others die as a result of mine blasts, avalanches or extreme cold. This is a selection of pictures of kolbars seeking out a living under harsh environmental conditions in Iran’s border regions with northern Iraq.
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