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US to Host Pledging Conference for Iraq

FILE - Internally displaced Iraqis carry humanitarian aid being distributed at a refugee camp in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Ghazaliyah, Sept. 16, 2015.

The United States will host a pledging conference next month to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to help Iraqis return to normal life.

The State Department said Wednesday that the events in Fallujah — where Iraqi forces are succeeding in taking back the city from Islamic State — are the most recent reminder of the toll that the war is taking on vulnerable civilians.

The U.S. will co-sponsor the conference with Canada, Germany and Japan on July 20. Washington said it planned to make a "substantial pledge" at the conference and urged other nations to join in.

The State Department said the United Nations already had been forced to close down dozens of lifesaving programs under its Iraq Humanitarian Response Plan because of a lack of funds.

That plan has gotten just 33 percent of the $861 million the U.N. says is needed. That price tag could climb as high as $2 billion over the coming months.

Despite the shortage of funds, the U.N. already has helped Iraqis restore electricity, water, schools, health services and businesses in several cities that were brutalized by Islamic State.

U.N. programs also have helped more than 725,000 Iraqis return to their homes.