Leaders and diplomats from 70 countries are meeting in London to pledge billions to help millions of Syrians displaced by war — and try to slow the chaotic exodus of refugees to Europe.

Thursday's conference aims to agree plans for economic and educational projects to assist 4.6 million Syrians who have sought refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and other neighboring countries.

The U.N. and regional countries say they need $9 billion in assistance for 2016.

Conference co-host Britain has pledged 1.2 billion pounds ($1.75 billion) in new aid by 2020, and Secretary of State John Kerry is due to announce a big U.S. commitment later.

Organizers believe finding jobs and schools for refugees in the Middle East can help increase regional stability and keep displaced Syrians from fleeing to Europe.