(Bloomberg) -- Democratic Republic of Congo’s government is hemorrhaging money as it tries to fight a series of conflicts in its eastern provinces that have displaced more than six million people, Finance Minister Nicolas Kazadi said.

“In the first quarter of 2024, 27% of revenues went to exceptional security-related expenses,” Kazadi said Wednesday in a press conference broadcast on national television. “There’s not another choice, we have to ensure the security of the country.”

Most of that money is targeted at fighting the M23 rebel group, which the government says is supported by neighboring Rwanda, though it’s denied the accusations. M23, which says it’s protecting the rights of ethnic Congolese Tutsis, controls a large swathe of the country’s mineral-rich North Kivu province.

Last year, the government spent 22% of revenue on exceptional security spending, up from a usual figure of about 1%, Kazadi said. The costs forced the government to cut back planned investment in its 41 trillion-franc ($15 billion) budget, he said. 

“When we have a security challenge, we have to tighten our belts,” Kazadi said.

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