WOULD-BE human shield Antoinette McCormick has reached Baghdad - just hours before the conflict began.

The 38-year-old arrived safe and well at the Palestine Hotel in the Iraqi capital after a long and difficult overland journey from Jordan, her York parents John and Mairi said today.

The couple, of Huntington Road, had been desperately waiting for 48 hours for news of their daughter, who set off from Amman on Monday evening in a bid to enter Iraq on a tourist visa.

Mr McCormick said he had been unable to get through on a landline to the hotel. "We were trying for an hour."

But then Antoinette had managed to call him on a satellite phone. "She is very tired but fine," he said.

Antoinette originally planned to go to a potential American and British target to act as a human shield and try to deter the bombers.

Mr McCormick said she would not now be doing that. "She plans to do what she can to help Iraqi civilians, and wants to stay on after the bombing stops," he said.

He said he and his wife were obviously anxious about the welfare of their daughter. "It's fingers crossed."

Mrs McCormick said: "She was OK. She sounded in good shape. They have a bomb shelter in the hotel, where journalists are staying.

"She has given up being a human shield but wants to stay and help civilians during and after the war."

Antoinette launched her bid to join hundreds of other human shields in Iraq earlier this year.

Quakers in York decided to fund her mission, and she travelled out to the Jordanian capital Amman.

She then decided not to become a human shield, fearing she might become a liability to the others, but later changed her mind again - only to find no more shields were going out to Iraq because of concerns that they were being used as "pawns" by Saddam Hussein, who was trying to make them go to major military targets.

She emailed the Evening Press last week to say she had now decided to travel to Iraq on a tourist visa.