United Nations Operation in the Congo

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Group.png United Nations Operation in the Congo  
UN's first and largest peacekeeping mission

The United Nations Operation in the Congo (ONUC) was a United Nations peacekeeping force which was deployed in the Republic of the Congo in 1960 in response to the Congo Crisis. The ONUC was the UN's first peacekeeping mission with significant military capability, and remains one of the largest UN operations in size and scope.

The Congo descended into chaos and disorder after it became independent from Belgium on 30 June 1960. This prompted a swift return of Belgian troops, under the pretext of restoring order and protecting its nationals. In response to the Congolese government's appeal for assistance, on 14 July 1960 the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 143 (S/4387), which called on Belgium to withdraw its troops and authorised the UN Secretary-General to provide the Congolese government with military assistance. The first UN troops, drawn mostly from African and Asian states, reached the Congo the following day.

In the face of worsening conditions—including an insurrection in Katanga, the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, the collapse of the central government, and the intervention of foreign mercenaries—the ONUC's initial mandate gradually expanded to include protecting the territorial integrity and political independence of the Congo, preventing an impending civil war, and securing the removal of all unauthorised foreign armed forces.

UN forces numbered nearly 20,000 military personnel at its peak from over two dozen countries, led largely by India, Ireland, and Sweden. During the peak of hostilities between September 1961 and December 1962, the ONUC transitioned from a peacekeeping to a military force and engaged in several clashes and offensives against secessionist and mercenary forces. After the reintegration of Katanga in February 1963, the ONUC was gradually phased out; civilian aid increased, becoming the single largest assistance effort by the UN up to that time. UN personnel were withdrawn entirely on 30 June 1964.[1]

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