DURHAM (WTVD) -- A handful of U.S. troops will arrive in Nigeria in the next few days. The Pentagon says their purpose is to help find nearly 300 girls kidnapped by an Islamist extremist group.
Meanwhile, a local university professor fears for his family who still lives in Nigeria. North Carolina Central University political science professor Emmanuel Oritsejafor painted the big picture of instability surrounding the region.
"The recent abduction took place in Borno state," said Oritsejafor, whose mother and extended family remain there.
Oritsejafor said people there are afraid following the kidnapping of some 300 girls yanked from their beds and forced into convoys.
"For family members who are there, they're very troubled," said Oritsejafor. "They're very perturbed about what they're doing."
Oritsejafor explained Boko Haram, the Islamists terror group claiming responsibility, is sending a horrific message to the Borno Nigerian state established with the country's independence in 1960.
"I think this is really a major, major threat to the unity that Nigerians were hoping will be achieved," said Oritsejafor.
He said so far the Nigerian government isn't helping much to quell the fear. It took national leaders there three weeks to publicly acknowledge the kidnappings as social media exploded internationally.
"Gone are the days when things are happening in Nigeria that the United States will close its eyes," said Oritsejafor.
Wednesday, the U.S. vowed to use State Department officials and the FBI to provide aid with intelligence and hostage negotiations. However, it's a small presence. A presence Oritsejafor said nearby African nations should occupy.
"No one is immune from this crisis in Nigeria, and the implications of it to the other neighboring states as well -- Cameroon, Niger, Chad," said Oritsejafor. "The question is what role will they play in assisting Nigeria?"
In addition to the U.S. aid, Britain and China are vowing to help Nigeria.
So far, close to a half a million people, including celebrities and lawmakers, have signed a petition on change.org calling on the world to intervene.
First lady Michelle Obama even tweeted out a photo of her holding a sign saying "Bring Back Our Girls" on Wednesday.