UNITED NATIONS - Oscar-winning actress and United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, has called on governments around the world to put aside their differences and try again to solve the 5-year-old conflict politically, saying it is shameful that even the basic demand for full humanitarian access has not been met..

“It is deeply alarming that the international response so clearly falls short of what is needed to end the conflict in Syria,” Ms. Jolie said in a statement.

According to the UN, over 220,000 Syrians have been killed, and almost half of the country’s men, women and children have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011. More than 4 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries, while a further 7.6 million are displaced within Syria.

UNHCR says that most of the over 4 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries see no prospect of returning home in the near future, and have scant opportunity to restart their lives in exile as many of them live in insecure dwellings and in poverty.

“It is sickening that crimes are being committed against the Syrian people on a daily basis with impunity. The failure to end this crisis diminishes all of us,” Ms. Jolie said.

People are entitled to feel bewildered and angry that the UN Security Council seems unable to respond to the worst crisis of the 21st century,” she added, noting that neighbouring countries and international humanitarian agencies are being stretched beyond their limits.

She also appealed for urgent steps to demonstrate that the international community is serious about accountability in Syria: “to show that we will not turn a blind eye to war crimes and that we will not fail refugees, the displaced, and the survivors.”

AFP adds: At least 18 people were killed and more than 100 injured in Syrian government air strikes near the capital Damascus on Sunday, a monitor said.

The raids on the town of Douma, northeast of the capital, came as the conflict entered its fifth year and the death toll soared over 215,000.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government warplanes had carried out four raids on Douma, leaving women and children among the injured. The Britain-based monitor said the toll was expected to rise because of serious injuries among the wounded.

An AFP photographer on the ground said the raids were continuing and that residents were sheltering in basements, terrified of the ongoing bombardment. Douma lies in the opposition bastion area of Eastern Ghouta, which has been subject to massive regime aerial bombardment for months.

The area has also been under a crippling government siege for nearly two years as part of a regime bid to break the rebel hold in the region. Rebels regularly fire missiles into the capital from the area.

Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of Syria’s conflict, which began with anti-regime protests in mid-March 2011 and spiralled into a bloody war after a harsh government crackdown on demonstrators.

The Observatory said Sunday that at least 215,518 people have since been killed in the conflict.