Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the world should be ashamed that three years after major powers approved a blueprint in Geneva to bring peace to Syria the suffering of its people is reaching new depths.

The U.N. chief said more than 220,000 Syrians have died in the conflict, now in its fifth year, almost half the population has been forced to flee their homes, and civilians still face attacks by barrel bombs and "horrendous" human rights violations including torture and prolonged detention of tens of thousands.

Ban stressed in a statement Tuesday that "it is time to find an exit from this madness."

He said the U.N. Security Council, which has been deeply divided over Syria, and the international community must not waste more time in ending the cycle of violence.