Picture for representation
Girl eats inside the evacuation center in Baloi Village Reuters

The ongoing fierce battle in Marawi has prevented relief goods from entering evacuation centers in the first district of Lanao del Sur due to exchanges of gunfire between Philippines soldiers and the Maute militant group.

The Marawi Anti-Crime Movement is appealing to both sides (military and militant group) for a temporary ceasefire to allow relief goods to reach evacuation centres because some reports have surfaced, claiming that many displaced persons have begun eating leaves and cardboard boxes as a result of their extreme hunger.

Samira Gutoc, the movement's leader, claimed that some Muslims in the evacuation centers are into fasting in observance of the Ramadhan period but when it was time for them to eat, there was nothing to eat especially at night.

"We're asking the Philippine Army, government, and the Maute group to allow the relief goods to get into the evacuation centers in Lanao," Gutoc was quoted by ABS-CBN online.

There are more than 300,000 residents who fled Marawi as the armed conflict in this Islamic City enters its fourth month. Most of the IDPs settled temporarily in Iligan City, Cagayan de Oro City and in the first district of Lanao del Sur province. Lanao del Sur first district faced the worse in supplying relief goods because of the intense exchanges of gunfire.

The Philippine military continues to launch airstrikes and artillery shells on rebels positions and it claims there are at least hundred militants left in Marawi City.

Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Restituto Padilla said that the Maute terrorists have nowhere to run. He also cited that those who escaped Marawi were already arrested. He was referring to some Maute clan members who were recently arrested in Cagayan de Oro and Iloilo City.

Padilla said that they are not issuing a new deadline to end the Marawi conflict because he said it was difficult to set a deadline given the complex dynamics in the battlefield. The armed conflict has already killed more than 300 people that include soldiers, militants and civilians.